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ID number:724160
Published: 03.11.2000.
Language: English
Level: Secondary school
Literature: n/a
References: Not used

The main idea of the story is to attack religion. Maugham laughs about the missionaries and their ideas, and the idea of religion. He shows the real soul of a missionary of that time.
The Davidson's are a missionaries couple that works on some islands beyond the island they are all stranded on in the story. The religion for them is everything, they live for it and it is the only one truth for them in the world, they can't understand that other people might not think so. They both are dedicated missionaries - they speak enthusiastically about religion and their work. Mrs. Davidson tells how her husband was going to the aborigines every time he was asked - even in a little canoe in the night. It is also said that they read the Bible every night before going to sleep.
Maugham shows us that in fact the Davidsons weren't saving the native souls from sins, but they were overmastering them. The natives had no other choice than to accept it in order to continue live their lives. The missionaries destroyed a folk and their traditions. They think that they are the nobility of the land and anything they say is law. Mr. Davidson says: "We had to make sins out of what they thought were natural actions. We had to make it a sin .. to expose their bodies, and to dance and not to come to church. I made it a sin for a girl to show her bosom and a sin for a man not to wear trousers."
Dr. Macphail is the opposite of the Davidsons. He is not religious, he thinks that the natives should be left to live their own life, and he looks ironically towards the Davidsons. He and Mrs. Macphail live happily together, and he always lets her to have the last word - that was a thing he had learnt in his marriage.
I'd like to say that I think, that this story could be interpreted very differently - here I mean the relation between Mr. Davidson and Miss. Thompson, as well as the tragical death of Mr. Davidson. In the class we heard different opinions about that, and I think that all of them could be true - as Maugham himself has said: human nature is unpredictable.…

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