The story ‘Salvatore’ by Somerset Maugham is a very short, simple and straight-forward story written in third person narrative technique. The author narrates the story of a fisherman named Salvatore, who lived in an Italian island. It is basically a biographical sketch of the protagonist in chronological order. The story begins when he was a boy of fifteen years of age and ends when he is a middle-aged family man with two children and a wife who lived peacefully the hard life of a common fisherman.
The only extraordinary event that takes place in his life is of him getting inflicted with rheumatism, from which he never completely recovers. This illness of Salvatore becomes the reason for the breakup of his engagement with his lady-love. As a curious reader, one might expect a sudden twist in the tale, a turn of events, etc, but nothing of the sort ever happens. The story ends on a simple note narrating the usual course of events of Salvatore’s life as a middle-aged family man. It leaves us wondering, if it really is a story or just an accumulation of events.
It is towards the end of the story that Maugham clarifies the theme as the portrayal of a quality in Salvatore’s life i.e. “Goodness, just goodness.” Hence, this narration of events is actually a masterly character sketch of the man. A thing worth mentioning about the style of the story is the uncommon way of beginning and ending of it. The author directly communicates to the readers about his ‘attempt’ to see if he could hold our attention for a while portraying a man named Salvatore.
Moreover, Maugham has not used a lot of direct speeches unlike most of the short-stories. He rather relies on his own narration of the events. At many places, he has also avoided details like, Salvatore’s marriage and relationship with his wife Assunta, to be precise in his writing.
Similes have been used in the story, for instance, ‘wept like a child’, ‘thin as a rail’, ‘enormous hands, like legs of mutton’, ‘they were like flowers’, etc.