Red By W. Somerset Maugham

Red is the name of a person to be begin with. He was young and good looking and naturally fell in love with Sally, the native girl in an island of South Sea, like Adam fell in love with Eva. The setting is perfectly beautiful and innocent, two happy lovers would write the wonderful love story till the end of their life.

But they were separately by an incident–Red was made drunk and sort of kidnapped by the captain who wanted Red as his sailor. But I can’t help to guess it might be Red’s idea to get away from the island, or he might passively let this happen. Deep down in his heart, had he ever think of leaving the island? Had he felt bore of his lover?

Anyway, two lovers were separated and Sally was very sad and never give hope of seeing Red again. She was forced to marry to Neilson, who madly love her for years. But she didn’t like Neilson, she only love her lover who has gone forever.

Years after, Neilson told the story of Red and Sally and his failure of winning Sally’s heart to a skipper who land the island for stop by. He looked like talking to himself, or talking to the rival of the lover, Red.

I think most of readers can guess, the skipper is Red himself not long after the narrative began. But the nice looking boy has turned into a fat, rude and unintelligent man without a trace of his good looking and well-shaped body.I love the description of the look of old Red. I have to say Maugham shaped his character without mercy.

“He was a tall man, more than six feet high, and very stout. His face was red and blotchy, with a network of little purple veins on the checks, and his features were sunk into its fatness. His eyes were bloodshot. His neck was buried in rolls of fat. But for a fringe of long curly hair, nearly while, at the back of his head, he was quite bald; and that immense, shiny surface of forehead, which might have given him a false look of intelligence, on the contrary gave him one of peculiar imbecility. He wore a blue flannel shirt, open at the neck and showing his fat chest covered with a mat of reddish hair, and a very old pair of blueserge trousers. He sat in his chair in a heavy ungainly attitude, his great belly thrust forward and his fat legs uncrossed. All elasticity had gone from his limbs. Neilson wondered idly what sort of man he had been in his youth. It was almost impossible to imagine that this creature of vast bulk had ever been a boy who ran about. ”

Similar to Red, Sally now was an old woman, fat, shapeless, bore and even darker. The two young lovers have changed and they didn’t even recognize each other. Love could be a merciless joke played on unsatisfied human being by TIME. As a reader, my feeling towards three characters have changed as well. I feel pity on Sally at the beginning but now she seems quite stupid and bored. She had insisted on something that no longer exist and never tried to care for those who loved her. Neilson is such a tragedy figure. He was pretty sick and came to the island to die peacefully but God gave him a chance to survive; he has put all his effort and love on a woman who would never return his love; the love then turn into hatred; now he know two young lovers have become silly old man and woman, he has reach to the end of a love journey–he was no longer care of the woman he loved, no love, no hatred, nothing. He just want to walk away, to have his life without bother with being loved or not.”The tragedy of love is indifference.”

The story ends. I sign.

Is this the true face of LOVE? “The essential element of love is a belief in its own eternity”. But in reality,Love looks like a silly broken dream. It is so changeable and very easy to turn into ugliness.

See the full text of RED 

Paper on discussion of RED

Audio book of Red


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