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Posted August 13, 2013
One of the short stories in this book is the "Sanatorium." After World War I, Maugham, suffering from tuberculosis, was a patient in a Scottish sanatorium for a period of two years. This story is similar to "Rain" because its unique setting contributed to the responses of the characters to one another and to their environment. The environment consists of a bleak hospital setting and the reader is made aware that some patients have been there for years. The sanatorium has become like a home to a mixture of personalities.
Maugham mentions hows the thought of death haunts the subconscious of the people in the sanatorium who know that their lives may be short lived. Maugham analyzes death when he writes, "The awfulness of death broods as the silence that precedes a tropical broods over the tropical jungle."" The jungle and the storm could be symbols of something that is bigger than one person. A young man of about twenty years old came to the sanatorium and is dead within a few days. He is briefly mourned and then the patients forget him and go back to their routine.
Maugham often portrays a hard and cynical side to his characters but in this story, he tells a beautiful love story between Miss Bishop and Major Templeton. Upon the death of another patient, Major Templeton asks Miss Bishop to marry him. The doctor tells Miss Bishop that she can live a normal life if she continues a quiet lifestyle in a sanatorium. Will Miss Bishop marry Major Templeton? Maugham writes, " Even the dullest were moved at the thought of these two persons who loved one another so much that they were prepared to sacrifice their lives" As with other stories of Maugham, love and passion inevitably lead to death. The message of death and love are deeply intertwined. "The Sanatorium" illustrates how both death and love are a part of life.