(a) Why could Salvatore not marry his fiancée ?
Answer : Salvatore was a pleasant, noble and handsome young man. He had an attractive face and carefree eyes. When he grew up he fell madly in love with a pretty girl who lived on the Grande Morina. She had eyes like forest pools and held herself like a daughter of the Caesars.
They were engaged but they could not marry because Salvatore had not done military service. As per the requirement, Salvatore left the island with a heavy heart and became a sailor in the Navy of King Victor Emmanuel.
In the course of his military service Salvatore fell ill. He stayed in the hospital for months. When he was released from the hospital it was declared that he was unfit for further military service. This news reached Salvatore’s fiancee also . When Salvatore came back he met his beloved. She told him plainly that they had heard about the illness and the fact that he would never be quite well again. She told him that they had taken the decision. She would not marry a man who would never be strong enough to work like a man. Thus Salvatore failed to marry his fiancee.
(b) Why was Salvatore rendered unfit for further Military service?
Answer : Salvatore was very happy after his engagement with the pretty girl whom he loved so much. The girl too loved him dearly but they could not marry till Salvatore had done his military service. As per the requirement, Salvatore left the island to become a sailor in the Navy of King Victor Emmanuel. It was painful for him to be parted from his fiancee, but there was no alternative. During the course of his service Salvatore visited Spezzia, Venice, Bari and finally China. In China he fell ill of some mysterious ailment. He had to stay in the hospital for months. Salvatore bore it patiently. Then he learnt that it was a form of rhenmatism that made him unfit for further service. He was discharged from the hospital with the instruction that he was not fit to continue his military service. Salvatore was rather happy. He felt that he could now go home and meet his beloved.
(c) Which quality of Salvatore appeals to you most? Why?
Answer : Salvatore, the protagonist of the story is pleasant, noble, hard working and kind hearted. He is an embodiment of the loveliest and the rarest quality anyone can aspire for. It is his goodness and due to this goodness he appeals to the readers most.
Salvatore is an ordinary Italian fisherman but he holds the reader’s attention due to his goodness. This quality is really important and interesting for the readers to understand. When his beloved tells him bluntly that she cannot marry him because he is not strong enough to work like a man, he does not compel her to agree. He is terribly unhappy but he does not blame the girl. He knows that a girl cannot afford to marry a man who might not be able to work hard and support her. He does not complain. He weeps but only on his mother’s bosom. His goodness can be judged from the fact that he does not speak a hard word about her. Salvatore’s goodness lies in the fact that he can hold in his feelings.
Besides goodness, Salvatore has other qualities also. He is hard working ,kind and good mannered, but he appeals to all for his goodness. His goodness endears him to one and all. No wonder by the time the story ends, Salvatore leads a good life with his wife children and property.
Part – 2
(a) Who was Assunta? Why did Salvatore agree to marry her?
Answer : Assunta was a twenty four or twenty-five year old spinster who loved Salvatore. When Salvatore’s fiancee refused to marry him, Salvatore was heart-broken, but he spoke no word against the girl. He remained sad but did not share his grief with anyone. Salvatore’s mother told him about Assunta. She said that Assunta loved him and she was willing to marry him. She thought that Assunta had a little money of her own. If Salvatore married her she could buy him a boat of his own and they could also take a vineyard. The only obstacle was that she was very ugly as “ugly as the devil.” In the words of Salvatore.
Salvatore met the girl and had a good look at her. When he came back he told his mother that he was willing to marry her. Thus he married grim-faced Assunta who looked older than her years.
(b) What role does Assunta play in the life of Salvatore?
Answer : Assunta’s role in Salvatore’s life is a balancing one. It is she who brings normalcy in his life. Though she is ugly yet she has a beautiful heart.
After his break-up with the beautiful girl, whom Salvatore loved very much, he was feeling sad and unhappy. On his mother’s suggestion, he met Assunta and agreed to marry her. After Assunta came in Salvatore’s life, there was a change in his life. Assunta was not pretty but she had a good heart. She was very practical. She was fully devoted to Salvatore. Soon children were born to them. It was hard life yet Salvatore and his wife made it tolerable. With the money that Assunta had they had bought a boat and a vineyard. Here they lived happily with their two sons whom Salvatore loved very much. Thus we see that Assunta accepted a man who was rejected by another girl and her role in Salvatore’s life is very important.
(c) Salvatore lived a hard life as a fisherman. Did his illness stand in his way?
Answer : After his marriage with Assunta, Salvatore and his wife settled down in a tiny white-washed house. It was in the middle of a handsome vineyard. Salvatore was not a big husky fellow , tall and broad. They had a boat of their own and Salvatore worked hard all through the fishing season. Every evening he would set out in his boat with his brother for the fishing grounds. They covered a distance of six to seven miles. Here they used to spend the night catching the profitable cuttlefish. They would then go on the early boat to Naples to sell the catch. At other times Salvatore worked hard in his vineyards till the heat drove him to rest. Normally his illness did not stand in his way. But whenever his rheumatism prevented him from doing work, he would lie about the beach smoking cigarettes. In spite of the pain that racked his limbs, he would talk politely and gently to others. Surprisingly, when the foreigners came down to bathe in the sea, and saw him resting they would comment, ………..these Italian fishermen were very lazy.”
Part – 3
(a) Salvatore felt dreadfully homesick in the battleship. How did he try to fight his homesickness?
Answer : After his engagement with the pretty girl who lived on the Grande Marina, Salvatore realized that they could not marry till Salvatore had done his military service. So Salvatore left the island and became a sailor in the navy of King Victor Emmanuel. At the time of parting from his beloved, he wept like a child.
Life, here on battleship was different. It was difficult for Salvatore to be at the beck and call of others. It was harder still to live with strangers. When he was ashore he found it boring to walk in noisy friendless cities with crowded streets. He terribly missed the mountains and the sea. When they were not before him, he realized how they had become a part of his being. In such a mood when his homesickness and the memories of his fiancee became intolerable he would write long, ill spelt letters to his beloved. He would tell her in his letters, how constantly he thought of her and how much he longed to be back.
(b) As soon as Salvatore came back from the military service he went to meet his fiancee. Why did he not receive a warm welcome?
Answer : When Salvatore came back from the military service, he was warmly welcomed by his family members. But to his surprise his fiancee was not there. He was told by his mother that they had not seen her for two-three weeks . In the evening, Salvatore went to meet his beloved. He was not warmly welcomed. He asked her if she had not received his letter, in which he had written about his returning home. He was told that they had received the letter and they had also been told about his illness by another of the island boys. She told him that they had heard that he would never be quite well again. In the light of the doctor’s word, they had decided that she could not marry him. She was not prepared to marry a man who would never be strong enough to work like a man. It was enough for Salvatore to understand why he was not given a warm welcome.
(c) Salvatore felt very happy in the company of his sons. Do you agree? Describe briefly how he enjoyed in the company of his sons?
Answer : Soon after his marriage with Assunta, Salvatore and Assunta settled down in a tiny house in the middle of a handsome vine-yard. Two sons were born to them with a gap of one year. Salvatore felt delighted in the company of his sons whom he loved very much. Sometimes he would bring them down to give them a bath. The elder was three and the younger was less than even two. They would sprawl about at the water’s edge stark naked. Sometimes, Salvatore standing on a rock, would dip them in the water. The elder one bore is calmly but the baby unable to bear it screamed loudly. Salvatore had big enormous hands, coarse and hard from his constant toil. When he bathed his children, he would hold them tenderly as if they were little flowers. Then he would dry them with delicate care. Sometimes, he would seat the naked baby on the palm of his hand and hold him up laughing a little at its smallness. At that time his eyes were as candid as his child’s.
Part – 4
(a) Salvatore’ beloved refused to marry him due to a hearsay. What do you think about her decision?
Answer : Salvatore’s fiancee refused to marry him because she had been told by another of his island boys that Salvatore was ill and he would never be quite well again. Her decision was not right. It is a common human weakness to believe what is said about another person. For most people, things spoken about oneself are more important than the man himself. Salvatore’s beloved is also such a person. This causes a lot of problems and misunderstandings which ruin the happiness of persons involved in the case forever.
After returning from military service when Salvatore meets his fiancee, she tells him bluntly that she cannot marry him. In fact she and her parents have heard that Salvatore can never be well again. On the basis of this they have made up their mind that Salvatore can never be strong enough to work like a man. So they will never give their consent for marriage. A lot of nonsense that the doctor talked has created such misunderstandings that Salvatore’s hopes are dashed to the ground. He is sad and heart-broken . We feel that the decision taken by Salvatore’s fiancee was not justified. She should not have believed a hearsay to take such an important decision.
(b) “The beauty of man is defined not by his inner characteristics but by his inner world.” How far is this statement true in the case of Salvatore?
Answer : Salvatore is pleasant , hard working, noble and a kind-hearted fisherman. He possesses this beauty of the inner world in abundance. As a boy of fifteen, he has a pleasant face, laughing mouth and carefree eyes. He helps his father who owns a vineyard. He also acts as a nursemaid to his two younger brothers.
When Salvatore returns from the military service and is rejected by his fiancee on the basis of a hearsay he does not blame her. Herein we find the beauty of his character. He smiles though sadly but does not utter even a harsh word about the girl whom he loved so much.
After marriage Salvatore lives happily with his wife. He has the most beautiful manners. This beauty of the inner world endears him to the readers.
(c) According to Salvatore, Assunta is ‘as ugly as the devil’. But she possess what we call inner beauty. Her beauty shines through her good deeds. In the light of this comment on the characteristics of Assunta.
Answer : Assunta is basically a good person who loves Salvatore. She is introduced to the readers by the mother of Salvatore as a young woman who is willing to marry Salvatore. According to Salvatore, she is “as ugly as the devil.” She is twenty-four or twenty five years, older than him. She had been engaged to a man who, while doing his military service , was killed in Africa. She had seen Salvatore at the fest and since then she had fallen in love with him.
Assunta is a mature girl. She is practical and materialistic. She has a little money of her own. With this she thinks that she can win the man whom she secretly loves. Very cleverly, she tells Salvatore’s mother that if her son marries her, she can buy him a boat of his own. Moreover, they can also take a vineyard which, at the moment, is without a tenant. This offer works well. Salvatore’s goes up to High Mass at the parish church, has a good look at Assunta and gives his consent for marriage. They get married and settle down in a tiny white-washed house.
Their marriage proves happy and fruitful . Assunta loves Salvatore. They have two sons and they lead a happy life. Assunta, with the passage of time, becomes a grim-faced female with decided features. She looks older than her years but she has a good heart and is quite sensible.
Question 1 : Who was Salvatore? Describe the circumstances under which he could not marry his fiancee.
Answer : Salvatore was a common fisherman. When he was a lad of fifteen, he was very active and agile. He had a pleasant face, a laughing mouth and carefree eyes. He could swim very well. His father was a fisherman who owned his own little vineyard. Salvatore had the responsibility to look after his two younger brothers.
When Salvatore grew up – and he grew up briskly as was very common with the boys of his age in that part of the land – he fell passionately in love with a girl. She had beautiful eyes “like forest pools”. They were soon betrothed. However, they could not marry till Salvatore had done his military service.
So he had to part form the girl he was in love. It was really hard for him to live away from home. He had to live with strangers in a battleship. On land he had to walk in noisy, friendless cities. The streets were so overcrowded there that he was unable to cross them. Soon he became dreadfully homesick. He wrote to his fiancee ill-spelt letters in which he told her how constantly he thought of her. He was sent to several places, to Spezzia, to Venice, to Bari and finally to China. Here in China he fell ill with some strange disease that kept him in hospitals for months. He actually suffered from rheumatism that made him unfit for further military service. The doctors told him that he would never again be quite well. He was sent back home.
When he reached home he was warmly welcomed by his parents, brothers and others. His eyes looked around to find the girl, for whom he had no care for the whole world. He could not see her. He asked her is she had not received the letter that he was coming. He was, then, bluntly told by the girl that they had learnt about his illness and that he would not be quite well. She said that she could not marry a man who could not work like a man. She said her father would not give his consent to their marriage. Heart-broken, he came home. He was sad, yet he uttered not a harsh word of the girl he had loved so well.
Question 2 : What role did Assunta play in the life of Salvatore? What message does it convey to you?
Answer : Salvatore was a young fisherman. He was in love with a girl, and both were engaged. He had to leave to do his compulsory military service. He was sent from one place to another. In China, he as afflicted with rheumatism. He was found unfit for further service and was sent back home. He was excited to meet her fiancee. He was shocked when the girl said that she could not marry a man who could not work like a man. He remained sad but sad no harsh word of the girl he had loved so well.
His mother told him that there was a woman, older than him, who was willing to marry him. She was Assunta, twenty-four or twenty-five, who had a little money of her own. She thought that if Salvatore married her she could buy him a boat of his own and they could take a vineyard. She was in love with Salvatore. The only obstacle was that she was very ugly – “as ugly as the devil” in the words of Salvatore.
Salvatore, however, went to meet her to have a good look of her. When he came back he told his mother that he was willing. Thus he came to marry Assunta. Salvatore was now a great husky fellow. Assunta was a grim-faced woman. She looked old for her years. But she had a good heart and was very practical. She was fully devoted to her husband. She never ceased to be touched by his gentle sweetness, but, in the words of the narrator:
…….she could not bear the girl who had thrown him over, and notwithstanding Salvatore’s smiling expostulations she had nothing but harsh words for her.
Presently children were born to them. Presently children were born to them. It was a hard life. Salvatore and his wife, however, made it quite tolerable.
Assunta’s role in Salvatore’s life is balancing one. It is she who restored normalcy in his life. Though she was ugly she had a beautiful heart. Her constant devotion to her husband and children conveys the idea that the beauty of the inner world is much more necessary than that of the outer world. Assunta accepts a man who is rejected by a beautiful girl and her role in his life is quite important.
Question 3 : “The underlying message of ‘Salvatore’ is that the beauty of a man is defined not by his inner characteristics but by his inner world.” In the light of this statement, discuss how Salvatore possesses this rare quality in abundance.
Answer : “Salvatore” is a gripping story, presenting before the readers the portrait of a man who is just an ordinary fisherman. As a boy of fifteen, he has a pleasant face, a laughing mouth and carefree eyes. He possesses a brown body and is as thin as a rail. He helps his father who owns a vineyard, and also acts as nursemaid to his two younger brothers. When he grows up he falls madly in love with a pretty girl who lives on the Grande Marina. They are engaged but they can’t marry till Salvatore has done his military service. It is with a heavy heart that he parts from his fiancee to become a sailor in the navy. He is sent here and there and in the process, when he is in China, he falls ill of some mysterious ailment. This illness makes him unfit for further service and he is allowed to go home.
When he comes home his fiancee refuses to marry him. He is terribly unhappy but he does not blame the girl. Herein we find the beauty of his character. He smiles though sadly but does not utter even a harsh word of the girl whom he loved so much.
When Salvatore has settled down to work in his father’s vineyard and fishing, his mother advises him to marry a girl who lives in the village. Although the girl is older than him and quite ugly , he agrees to marry her. They get married and settle down in a small house. Salvatore is now a great, big husky man, tall and broad. He still has the ingenuous smile and those trusting kindly eyes that he had as a boy. He has the most beautiful manners. This beauty of his inner world endears him to the readers. In spite of his rheumatism, he works very hard. All through the fishing season, he goes in his boat to fishing grounds and catches profitable cuttlefish. At other times he works in his vineyard. Never does he complain of his ill health. He always has a pleasant word for everyone notwithstanding the pain and racked his limbs.
Salvatore remains happy in the company of his sons. Sometimes he brings them with him to give them a dip in the water. He bathes his sons, holding them tenderly and then dries them with a delicate care as if they were delicate flowers. Sometimes Salvatore would seat the naked baby on the palm of his hand and hold him up laughing a little at his smallness and his laugh was like the laughter of an angel.
Salvatore , just an ordinary fisherman, possesses in abundance the beauty of the inner world. It is the rarest and the most precious quality. It shines in him with a radiance. This quality is goodness, just goodness.
Question 4 : In ‘Salvatore’ Somerset Maugham voices dissatisfaction with the fact that for most people the things spoken about oneself are more important than the man himself. Do you agree? Illustrate your answer with the help of examples from the story.
Answer : It is sad but true that most of us are led by the things spoken about a man than by the man himself. We tend to believe what we hear. Rarely do we bother to confirm them by approaching the man. The result is often disastrous for him. It may prove to be so for us, too, at times.
Salvatore falls ill in a distant land. His fiancee and her parents hear that Salvatore will never be quite well again and that he will not be able to work like other fishermen. So they break the engagement. Salvatore is so kind-hearted that he does not speak a harsh word of the girl he has loved passionately. He realizes that a girl cannot afford to marry a man who might not be able to support her.
After some time, he marries Assunta, a woman older than him. Assunta is ugly but proves to be a very caring and supporting wife. With her money he is able to have his own boat and a vineyard. All through the fishing season he sets out in his boat with one of his brothers for the fishing grounds. It is a long pull of six or seven miles, and after catching the profitable cuttlefish throughout the night he comes back. At other times he works in his vineyard from dawn till the heat forces him to rest.
There is no doubt that rheumatism often prevents him from doing anything at all. But it does not mean that he is totally incapacitated. He leads an almost normal life, doing his work, making money and rearing his children:
Salvatore had enormous hands, like legs of mutton, coarse, and hard from constant toil, but when he bathed his children, holding them as tenderly, drying them with delicate care; upon my word they were like flowers.
It is in this context that we feel that the girl Salvatore loved did injustice to him by rejecting him on mere what she had heard about him.