In the story ‘Salvatore’ by W. Somerset Maugham, which one quality of Salvatore appeals to you the most and why?
Or, According to the author of the story which one quality shone with a radiance in Salvatore? Give reasons to support your answer.
Or, What special quality have you found in Salvatore that you would like to imitate?
Or, Explain with reference to the story “Salvatore” how the quality of goodness can make an ordinary man extraordinary.
Or, How does the story “Salvatore” highlight the inner beauty of a person?
In the short story “Salvatore”, Maugham has presented the character of Salvatore as an epitome of goodness. The writer directly communicates with the readers both at the beginning and the end of the story to suggest the purpose of his story. Through the depiction of an apparently ordinary man as our protagonist has been, Maugham shows us how the quality of goodness – the inner beauty of a man – can make an ordinary man extraordinary.
The story basically presents a biographical narrative of Salvatore’s life in a chronological order. When the story begins, he is a boy of fifteen, the son of an Italian fisherman. As a fisher boy, it is no shock that he is an expert at swimming. But the protective and caring attitude he shows to his two younger brothers is somewhat beyond regularity.
Salvatore acted as a nursemaid to his two younger brothers … shouted to them to come inshore when they ventured out too far and made them dress ….
Salvatore’s affectionate nature at this very young age wins the readers’ heart. At the very beginning paragraphs of his story, the author has been successful in registering a lasting impression of Salvatore’s goodness on our mind.
And this impression only gets stronger when the story progresses. We next see Salvatore as a passionate lover who joins the royal navy in order to get the girl he loves. Not only that, he remains true to his love even in foreign lands. He writes his beloved letters stating her his agony of staying away from her and his longing to meet her.
In wrote to her (in his childlike handwriting) long, ill-spelt letters in which he told how constantly he thought of her and how much he longed to be back.
He becomes ill at ease while staying with strangers in cities crowded with people without any charm of friendship. In China, he was in hospital for months. But he bears it “with the mute and uncomprehending patience of a dog”. He receives the first major shock of his life when he learns that it is a form of rheumatism which makes him unfit for further service.
… he did not complain, and he never said a hard word of the girl he had loved so well.
And Salvatore’s story doesn’t end here. He then marries Assunta, a woman older than him, at his mother’s will. His conjugal life is not unhappy either, blessed with two baby boys. He does enough to keep his family running in the form of catching cuttlefish at night and working in his vineyard all day long.
We see another identity of Salvatore in the form of a happy and caring father. He sometimes gives his babies a bath with utmost care. He seats the baby on his palm, holds him up and laughs at his smallness.
Though fits of rheumatism take its toll on Salvatore every now and then, he is never heard to use harsh words for anyone.
… he would lie about the beach, … with a pleasant word for everyone notwithstanding the pain that racked his limbs.
Salvatore has been calm, happy and accepting in every situation of his life. He impresses us with his love, affection and caring nature not only towards his lover, but also his brothers, and later on his children. Not to mention his mental strength which has helped him bear two major blows in his life – firstly being diagnosed with rheumatism and then rejection of his beloved. This mental toughness coupled with the calm attitude in Salvatore’s character is something that claims respect. It is indeed very hard to explain how a man from a traditional fishing community and without much formal education can bear such high moral standard of acceptance and forgiveness.
All in all, Salvatore has been a representative of simple common men with mundane life. Apparently, there is nothing extraordinary in his life. But an observant eye, as Maugham has, can sense the beauty and value of such a character. One quality shone with a radiance in Salvatore, as the writer perfectly sums up —
… the rarest, the most precious and the loveliest that anyone can have … Goodness, just goodness.
And this goodness of his heart makes Salvatore so special, and imitable a character, no doubt.