Salvatore is the protagonist of the story. A young man from a family of Italian fishermen living on Capri, he serves in the navy until he is diagnosed with rheumatism and is allowed to return home. Upon returning, he learns his fiancée won't marry him because she worries his disability means he cannot provide for her and a family. Salvatore accepts the rejection and soon marries a local widow. He lives happily with her and they raise two sons. Salvatore works hard despite his illness. The story concludes with the narrator justifying his portrait of Salvatore by saying he possesses the rarest of virtues: simple goodness.
Salvatore’s Fiancée (The Girl)
Referred to only as "the girl" in the story, Salvatore's fiancée is a local girl Salvatore falls in love with as a teenager. Salvatore misses her dearly when he is away serving in the navy. However, the girl breaks her engagement to Salvatore upon learning of his rheumatism because she and her family worry a disabled man cannot provide for a wife.
Assunta is Salvatore's wife. A young widow a few years older than Salvatore, Assunta sees Salvatore at a festival in town and she falls in love. She is described as ugly and grim-faced, but the narrator also comments on the kindness in her heart. Salvatore recognizes the quality in her, and they marry and live happily, raising two boys.
Salvatore's unnamed mother plays a supporting role in the story. After Salvatore's engagement ends, his mother encourages him to marry Assunta.
The narrator is the unnamed first-person entity from whose perspective the story is told. Likely a stand-in for the author himself, the narrator speaks of Salvatore as though he has observed him develop from a teenager to a grown man. However, how the narrator knows Salvatore is never made explicit.
Salvatore Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Salvatore is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.