Salvatore Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Rheumatism (Symbol)

The rheumatism from which Salvatore suffers is a symbol of resilience. Despite the adversity that comes with having a painful autoimmune disease, Salvatore maintains a positive outlook. When diagnosed, he ignores the consequences of what his doctor is telling him because he sees only the good fortune of being able to return home. When his fiancée rejects him because he is now disabled, he is upset but not bitter about her decision, and soon bounces back by marrying Assunta. As an adult, Salvatore is often beset by such pain that he must rest on the beach: however, he works hard through the night and day when he is able. Ultimately, there is a sense of spiritual contentment that shines through Salvatore's being no matter what illness-based adversity he faces.

Salvatore's Face (Symbol)

The innocent, childlike face that Salvatore retains throughout his life is a symbol of his goodness. From the beginning of the story, Maugham focuses on how Salvatore has "a pleasant face, a laughing mouth and carefree eyes." He notes how Salvatore even maintains a sad smile when his fiancée rejects him. He then "smiles his sweet smile" when he learns of Assunta's interest in him, and when he grows big and husky as a father and husband, he still has "that ingenuous smile and those trusting, kindly eyes that he had as a boy." Ultimately, Salvatore's pleasant face expresses how he maintains a good and contented spirit throughout his life on the island, never seeming to need anything more than what is in front of him.

Salvatore Never Complains (Motif)

That Salvatore never complains about his misfortune is a motif that runs throughout the story. Having been diagnosed with rheumatism, Salvatore is overjoyed because he can return home. He is similarly resilient when his fiancée rejects him because of his disability, feeling upset but maintaining that she is not a bad person and that he understands the practicality of her choice. He is also upbeat when people come to chat with him on the beach, even though he is only ever lying there because he is suffering from extreme inflammatory pain. Ultimately, the motif supports the major theme of virtuousness, demonstrating to the reader how Salvatore possesses an unconscious humility despite a life of adversity.