As Meat Loves Salt
Goodreads ratings
3.9 / 5

"As Meat Loves Salt" Characters Analysis

By Maria McCann

historical fiction | 565 pages | Published in NaN

In the seventeenth century, the English Revolution is under way. The nation, seething with religious and political discontent, has erupted into violence and terror. Jacob Cullen and his fellow soldiers dream of rebuilding their lives when the fighting is over. But the shattering events of war will overtake them. A darkly erotic tale of passion and obsession, As Meat Loves Salt is a gripping portrait of England beset by war. It is also a moving portrait of a man on the brink of madness. Hailed as a masterpiece, this is a novel by a most original new voice in fiction.


Estimated read time: 8 min read

List of Characters

Jacob CullenProtagonist
FerrisJacob's lover
Sir RalphJacob's brother
ElizabethJacob's sister
AnneSir Ralph's wife
TomJacob's childhood friend
JonathanJacob's childhood friend
SarahJacob's mother
Richard CullenJacob's father
MaryJacob's sister
William CullenJacob's brother

Role Identification

The novel "As Meat Loves Salt" by Maria McCann is a historical fiction set during the English Civil War. The story follows the life of Jacob Cullen, a complex and tormented character who serves as the protagonist. Jacob's journey takes him through various roles, including soldier, lover, brother, and husband.

Character Descriptions

Jacob Cullen

Jacob Cullen is a passionate and impulsive individual. He is described as having a tall and lean physique, with dark hair and intense blue eyes. Jacob's appearance reflects his inner turmoil and his struggle to find his place in the world.


Ferris is Jacob's lover and the person who understands him the most. She is a beautiful and spirited woman, with fiery red hair and a rebellious nature. Ferris becomes Jacob's anchor and source of comfort in a world filled with chaos and violence.

Sir Ralph

Sir Ralph is Jacob's older brother, who is portrayed as an authoritative figure. He is a well-respected and wealthy landowner. Sir Ralph is married to Anne and becomes a source of conflict and rivalry for Jacob.


Elizabeth is Jacob's younger sister, and she plays a minor role in the story. She is depicted as a kind-hearted and innocent young woman who becomes a victim of the war's brutality.


Anne is Sir Ralph's wife, and she embodies the traditional role of a noblewoman during that era. She is portrayed as a dutiful wife and mother, but her relationship with Jacob is strained due to their conflicting personalities and desires.


Tom is Jacob's childhood friend and companion. He is a loyal and dependable character, always by Jacob's side throughout their adventures. Tom provides a sense of stability and friendship in Jacob's turbulent life.


Jonathan is another childhood friend of Jacob's, and he serves as a contrast to Tom's loyalty. Jonathan is more opportunistic and self-serving, often making choices that benefit himself rather than others.


Sarah is Jacob's mother, who is shown as a strong-willed and independent woman. She cares deeply for her children and tries to protect them during the chaos of the Civil War.

Richard Cullen

Richard Cullen is Jacob's father, a stern and strict man who adheres to traditional values. He struggles to understand Jacob's rebellious nature and clashes with him throughout the story.


Mary is Jacob's sister, who plays a minor role in the narrative. She is depicted as a quiet and obedient young woman, often overshadowed by the more prominent characters.

William Cullen

William Cullen is Jacob's younger brother, who also has a minor role in the story. He is portrayed as naive and innocent, unaware of the harsh realities of the world around him.

Character Traits

Jacob Cullen is a complex character with a myriad of traits that define his personality. He is passionate, impulsive, and driven by intense emotions. Jacob's actions are often guided by his desires, leading him to make impetuous decisions that have significant consequences. He is also fiercely loyal to those he loves, willing to sacrifice everything for their well-being.

Ferris, on the other hand, is spirited and rebellious. She challenges societal norms and expectations and refuses to conform to traditional roles assigned to women. Ferris is strong-willed and possesses a fiery temperament, which complements Jacob's passionate nature.

Sir Ralph is characterized by his authoritative demeanor and his need for control. He represents the traditional values and expectations of the nobility during that era. Anne, his wife, embodies the dutiful wife and mother, adhering to societal expectations despite her strained relationship with Jacob.

Tom is characterized by his loyalty and dependability. He is a steadfast friend to Jacob, always ready to support him through thick and thin. Jonathan, in contrast, is more opportunistic and self-serving, often putting his own interests above others.

Sarah, Jacob's mother, is portrayed as a strong and independent woman who fiercely protects her children. Richard Cullen, Jacob's father, is a strict and traditional man who struggles to understand his son's rebellious nature.

Mary and William, Jacob's siblings, have minor roles in the story. Mary is quiet and obedient, while William is naive and innocent.

Character Background

Jacob Cullen comes from a modest background. His family owns a small farm, and his father, Richard Cullen, adheres to traditional values and expects his children to do the same. Jacob rebels against these expectations, seeking a life filled with adventure and passion.

Ferris's background is less explored in the novel, but she is portrayed as a woman who defies societal norms and expectations. She finds solace in her relationship with Jacob, which offers her the freedom and excitement she craves.

Sir Ralph and Anne come from a wealthy and privileged background. They represent the nobility and the traditional roles assigned to individuals of their social status.

Tom and Jonathan are childhood friends of Jacob, and their backgrounds are similar to his. They come from modest families and share Jacob's desire for something more than the life they were born into.

Sarah, Jacob's mother, is a strong and independent woman who has experienced hardship. She is determined to protect her children from the chaos of the Civil War.

Character Arcs

Jacob's character arc in "As Meat Loves Salt" is one of self-discovery and transformation. At the beginning of the novel, he is driven by his impulses and desires, often making reckless choices. However, as the story progresses, Jacob experiences the consequences of his actions and begins to reflect on the impact of his decisions. He becomes more introspective and starts to question his own motivations and desires.

Throughout the novel, Jacob's relationship with Ferris plays a crucial role in his character development. She challenges his beliefs and forces him to confront his own flaws. Jacob's love for Ferris becomes a catalyst for change, pushing him towards a path of redemption and self-acceptance.

Jacob's relationships with his family members, especially Sir Ralph and Anne, also contribute to his character arc. The conflicts and tensions within these relationships force Jacob to confront his own identity and desires, ultimately shaping his growth.


Jacob's relationship with Ferris is the central romantic relationship in the novel. Their love is passionate and intense, serving as a driving force for Jacob's actions. Ferris understands Jacob in a way that no one else does, and their relationship provides solace and meaning in a chaotic world.

Jacob's relationship with Sir Ralph is fraught with tension and rivalry. They clash over their differing ideologies and desires, with Sir Ralph representing tradition and Jacob seeking a more unconventional life.

Anne, Sir Ralph's wife, is an important character in Jacob's life. Their relationship is strained due to their conflicting personalities and desires. Anne tries to conform to societal expectations, while Jacob rebels against them.

Jacob's relationship with his childhood friends, Tom and Jonathan, showcases different aspects of his character. Tom represents loyalty and steadfastness, while Jonathan highlights Jacob's impulsive and self-serving tendencies.

The relationship between Jacob and his family members, particularly his mother Sarah and his father Richard Cullen, is complex. They provide a backdrop against which Jacob's character is shaped, with their expectations and values contrasting with his own desires.

Overall, the relationships in "As Meat Loves Salt" shape Jacob's character and contribute to his journey of self-discovery and transformation.