Examine Salvatore’s role as a son, brother, lover, husband, and then father.
Or, Give a character analysis of Salvatore as depicted in the short story “Salvatore” by William Somerset Maugham.
Or, Give a brief outline of Salvatore as painted by the author with suitable quotes.
“Salvatore” by W. Somerset Maugham is a biographical narrative about an adolescent boy whose upbringing, day-to-day mode of living, and marriage have been depicted in subtle prose infused with the spirit of humanistic vigour and pellucid clearness.
Salvatore is a fifteen-year-old boy, brown-coloured in complexion, endowed with sturdy built-up, graceful manner and nonchalant eyes. He has possessed an effortless ease in the art of swimming. Quite suitably the writer has depicted him as a frolicsome boy belonging to a fishing community.
… he would throw himself into the deep water with a cry of delight.
He is full of affection for his two brothers taking care of them as a caring nursemaid. The boy is, thus, grown up in the lap of nature along with others in the neighbourhood; a fine democratic upbringing he has got with a free-born spirit and jovial temper. Close-knit community feeling is well conspicuous in his character. He calls out to his brothers when they go too far into the sea. He also dresses them up when it’s time to go uphill for lunch. It is a matter of astonishment how a boy of his age could have a protective and motherly feeling for his younger brothers.
As a lover, Salvatore’s passion knows no bounds. He bursts into tears as he starts for entering into a professional life of a sailor in the navy of King Victor Emmanuel. He becomes ill at ease while staying with strangers in cities crowded with people without any charm of friendship. It is not an easy task for him to stay without the girl of his heart’s desire. Too much homesickness tells upon his health. He gets impatient to come home; he scribbles letters to the girl about his bottled-up feeling of utter discomfiture among those strangers. He also informs her that he is utterly desirous of meeting her. His life has gone through a sea-change. But he is every inch loyal to his relationship with the girl.
… and he never said a hard word of the girl he had loved so well.
Again, as an obedient son, Salvatore yields to his mother’s suggestion; he marries Assunta, a woman senior to him.
His conjugal life is really happy, blessed with two children. Though he often experiences fits of rheumatism, it doesn’t keep him from enjoying his outwardly mundane life of a common fisherman. He would catch cuttlefish at night and go to Naples on the early morning boat to sell them. At other times, he would be working on his vineyard from dawn to dusk. So as a dutiful husband he does enough to maintain his family.
Salvatore is also a happy, affectionate and caring father. Sometimes he would give his children a bath in utter delight. He would seat the naked baby on the big palm of his hand and hold him up, laughing a little at his smallness. This laughter is indicative of how happy the man is with his outwardly ordinary life.
… and his laugh was like the laughter of an angel. His eyes then were as candid as his child’s.
This is how Maugham portrays a man of stolid adjustment. He has managed to overcome two big shocks of his life – his rheumatism and the rejection of his beloved. He hasn’t got all he wanted. Life has not been as easy as he would have thought. But still, he never complains against anything in life; rather he is happy with what life has presented to him.
…he would lie down about the beach, smoking cigarettes, with a pleasant word for everyone notwithstanding the pain that racked his limbs.
This calm and happy attitude of Salvatore has actually been a by-product of one rarest virtue in his character. That virtue is the inner goodness of heart and the Christian forgiveness.