ISC Echoes Character sketch of Salvatore


Salvatore by W. Somerset Maugham

Question : W. Somerset Maugham’s titular hero Salvatore was a responsible brother, a passionate lover and a loving father. Analyse the statement with reference to the story ‘Salvatore’ ?

Answer : Salvatore is the protagonist of W. Somerset Maugham short story of the same name. The story is not only named after him but also it intends to develop him as a character filled with inherent goodness.

  • Physical Appearance

          Salvatore, when young ,was described as “a boy of fifteen with a pleasant face, a laughing mouth and carefree eyes”and “his brown body was as thin as a rail”. He had sturdy built-up and was full of grace. Being a boy of a fishing community he could swim effortlessly in the sea.

      Salvatore when married, was a ” tall, broad and big  husky fellow. ” He had enormous hands, that became coarse and hard from constant toil. 

  • A Responsible Brother

        Salvatore, the eldest of the brothers, was full of affection for his two brothers. He took care of them as a caring nursemaid. 

 ” He shouted to them to come inshore when they ventured out too far.” He would also dress them when it was time to climb the hot hill for the midday meal.

  • An Emotional Son 

          Salvatore was very emotional for his family. He had never been alone and when he lef5 to become a sailor in navy, ” he wept like a child. ” Being away from his home, he was dreadfully homesick. He was not comfortable with strangers on the ship and when onshore he did not like spending time in friendless crowded cities. Moreover when he was left heartbroken by the girl he loved, he wept on his mother’s bosom. 

  • A Passionate Lover

            Salvatore was madly in love with a girl from his island. They were engaged and had to wait for marriage until he completed his military service. When he was away from her , he used to write to her long, passionate letters. He would tell her how much he missed her and how much he longed to go back. 

       When he fell ill and doctors told him that he was suffering from rheumatism, ” his heart exulted, for he could go home” to the girl, who was supposedly waiting for him. 

  • A Dutiful Husband and Father

              Salvatore, after being rejected by the girl he loved, married Assunta. He fulfilled his responsibilities of being a husband and a father. He kept Assunta happy ; ” she never ceased to be touched by his gentle sweetness. ”  Even after suffering from rheumatism, he worked hard to sustain his family. He used to work full day in the vineyard and spent the night catching the profitable cuttlefish with one of his brothers. 

        As a father of two young children, Salvatore loved them and spent time with them. It seemed he took part equally in the rearing of their children. When he used to five them a bath , he used to hold them tenderly and delicately as ” they were like flowers. ” He used to laugh with them and they all enjoyed it. “His laugh was like the laughter of an angel. His eyes then were as candid as his child. ” 

  • A Man of Inherent Goodness

        Salvatore was a man of Inherent goodness and the author presents the story to depict the real quality of Salvatore. This goodness did not reveal at a single moment of his life but throughout his life. As a young boy he is affectionate and caring towards his younger brother. We can say that Salvatore wins the hearts of the readers at the beginning  of the story and this impression becomes stronger with the progress of the story. 

        Salvatore’s  inherent  goodness came to forefront when he is presented as a passionate lover. When he was away to join the royal navy in order to get the girl he loved, even then he remains true to his love in foreign lands. He used to write long passionate letters to tell her how much he missed her and how much he longed to go back. 

      When he came back due to his illness, he was rejected by the girl he loved. The girls mother bluntly told him that her daughter would not marry a man suffering from a disease. The heartbroken Salvatore “was terribly unhappy, but he did not blame the girl .” He understood that ” a girl could not afford to marry a man who might not be able to support her.” She refused to marry him but his inherent goodness and true love that he felt for her, did not allow him to say a “hard word for the Girl he had loved so well.” 

         Like a good son he married another girl Assunta, a woman older than him, at his mother’s will. His further life was not unhappy either, blessed with two children. Being a good husband, he kept his wife Assunta happy. He did not let his past affect his present and future. 

         Although affected by rheumatism, he used to work hard to support his family. When the pain racked his limbs, he would simply “lie about the beach, smoking cigarettes, with a pleasant word for everyone.” 

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