Our Savage, Matt Pavelich's first novel, opens with the birth of the huge baby Danilo Lazich and the subsequent death of his mother, Angelene Lazich, from the septic knife of the midwife. For one year Danilo's father, Marko Lazich, carried the child to three different wet nurses every day to ensure his life.
By the time Danilo is eight years old, Marko has already evicted the disrespectful child who eats heartily. The gigantic child becomes a vicious highwayman nicknamed “Vuk Hajduk,” the highwayman, the wolf. Danilo finally tries other ways of surviving and begins to show kindness.
Young Danilo and Stoja Regocidivić decide to wed, travel to the New World, and seek happiness; it is, however, a marriage of convenience. Vuk Hajduk becomes Danny Savage in the New World. They live first in New Orleans and later in Wyoming; they have a daughter, Angelene. Angelene marries Juro Capich; their son Radé (“Red”) and Danny Savage become inseparable. Radé even assumes care of his grandfather after Danny suffers a serious head injury.
Pavelich's skill in revealing the many facets of the round character Danilo makes the protagonist believable. The reader also identifies with “Red,” Angelene, and even Stoja. This use of characterization is one of the best literary features of the chronologically-written work.
The theme is explicit: “Why go anywhere?” “It's all the same.” The last scene describes Danny standing calmly on the brace behind the snow plow of a train; at the cleaving point of the spray of snow, in the midst of a deafening roar, he looks solemnly at all that is around him. This open denouement of Our Savage gives the reader and Danny hope.