The theme of love and affection is a prominent theme in the short story “Salvatore” by W. Somerset Maugham. Elucidate.
The titular character Salvatore in Somerset Maugham’s story is an embodiment of a true congenial combination of love and affection that we count to be two primal qualities most predominant in his mental constitution.
One can easily notice a radiance of divine grace that is reflected in his attitude to his younger brothers and his parents. It is a homespun natural way of expression in his day-to-day affairs of life. Moreover, it is almost a motherly propensity that he shows for his two brothers. Such loving care for his siblings makes him a man of sterling worth. Such milk of human kindness is really worthy of approbation.
Salvatore acted as nursemaid to his two younger brothers. He shouted to them to come inshore when they ventured out too far and made them dress when it was time to climb up the hot, vineclad hill for the frugal mid-day meal.
Again, Salvatore showed his new-fangled love at the juncture of puberty for a girl living on the Grande Marina. It was only for his love that he joined military service. He “wept like a child” when he had to go.
But on the foreign land he could not rest in peace in the absence of his near and dear ones. His homesickness made him restless and ill. The toughest part was “to be parted from the girl he loved with all his passionate young heart”. In his long ill-spelt letters, he wrote to the girl how constantly he thought of her and how much he longed to be back.
When his boat from Naples finally reached ashore, he saw his father, mother and his two brothers. He waved to them. His eyes were then searching for the girl living in his heart. But she wasn’t there. Soon after, he got a devastating blow from his lover who ignored him and refused to marry him as he was then an invalid not being able to work any longer. It was owing to some form of rheumatism he became unfit for any work. He suffered such stiff mental setbacks without any complain; nor did he show any grievance against his lover. Even though he was unhappy, he never blamed the girl he genuinely loved. Instead he unburdened himself by weeping in his mother’s bosom.
His smile was very sad … , but he did not complain, and he never said a hard word of the girl he had loved so well.
Another incident happened in his life. He married Assunta, a girl older to him, in accordance with his mother’s choice. Salvatore and Assunta were blessed with two children. So, they apparently led a happy conjugal life.
As a responsible husband, Salvatore worked all day long in his vineyard and used to catch cuttlefish at night. Though he often suffered fits of rheumatism, he had pleasant words for everyone he met. A sort of fellow-feeling for every human being on earth is seen in his character.
But this doesn’t end here. A happy father as Salvatore was sometimes used to give his babies a bath. He would then seat the younger one on his big palm and hold him up and laugh a little at his smallness. Such fatherly affection and care make Salvatore a man worthy of respect.
The author has thus explored the theme of love and affection through the protagonist’s character in the story. He has shown how valuable the two qualities are in a man’s life. Salvatore has, no-doubt, gained a permanent place in the readers’ heart with his unconditional love and affection not only for the girl but also for everyone he lived among.
Salvatore is a very loving, affectionate man. He cares deeply for his two younger brothers and takes his responsibilities toward them very seriously indeed. Love often involves sacrifice, and Salvatore sacrifices his short-term happiness by enlisting in the navy; love of country clearly means a lot to him. Salvatore’s also deeply in love with his girlfriend, as can be seen from the numerous love letters he sends her. But even after she rejects him on account of his rheumatism, Salvatore doesn’t lapse into bitterness and self-pity; he still retains that deep sense of humility that makes him such a sympathetic character. And he remains as devoted to love as ever, only he transfers the love he once felt for his ex-girlfriend to his wife Assunta and the children they have together. Salvatore loves life, and his family are the most important part of that life.
Salvatore is an example of pure radiance and goodness, a man whom one cannot hate but admire. He was kind, loving and responsible. He used to bring his two brothers to the sea. When his brothers swam too far he used to shout to tell them to come ashore. He shortly fell in love with a pretty girl. He describes that “she had eyes like forest pools and held herself like the daughter of Caesar”. It was the time of war and conscription and he had to join the Italian Army due to conscription and become a sailor under Victor Emanuel. But she never forgot about his ladylove. He used to write long ill-spelt letters where he would constantly tell her about his feelings.
While in China he finally collapsed and hospitalized for months after which he came to know it was rheumatism. He wasn’t sad but was rather happy that he could finally return back home. After he reached the island he was greeted by his family with a warm welcome. But he was surprised not to find his ladylove. Later that day he went to her house where he was heartbroken to know that his fiancée wasn’t ready to marry a sick guy. But he never accused her. Later he was married to Assunta with whom he had two children. He was a fisherman with rough hands but when he used to take his children for bath, he used to treat them gently which again shows how prominent his love and affection for others is.