In “The Handsomest Drowned Man in The World” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez we begin with a drowned man that washed up on a beach near a village, he is taken to the nearest house of said village. They notice how the body is bigger and heavier than any of those who live there. The women are left in charge of cleaning the man while the men go out to the other villages to see if there was someone missing. The women clean the body and, you guessed it, noticed how handsome the stranger was. They picture him as a perfect man in life, and the eldest women deemed him a person called Esteban. When the name has settled in they start to imagine how unhappy Esteban had been with his huge body “since it bothered him even after death.” When the women become a to the men they begin to question the women and they are exposed to Esteban. We are also shown more of Esteban’s vulnerability. Everyone admires Esteban, and “hold the most splendid funeral they could ever conceive of for an abandoned drowned man.” The story then proceeds to tell you how much of an impact it has caused the village.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez characterizes the village residents and Esteban throughout “The Handsomest Drowned Man in The World” from how Esteban, a stranger, is given traits by the women to how attached they became to Esteban:
…noticed that he weighed more than any dead man they had ever known, almost as much as a horse… he’d been taller than all other men…
These are points brought up repeatedly which could be a setting element which just goes to show how much of a foreigner Esteban was. There is also the fact that fact that the children are aware of enemy ships that give you the sense where/when this is happening other. Sir Walter Raleigh is also mentioned which means they are in our world.
The biggest thing that keeps recurring is Esteban’s features and a personality given to him, which is odd because he is dead and a stranger to the residents of the village.
They thought that if that magnificent man had lived in the village, his house would have had the widest doors, the highest ceiling, and the strongest floor, his bedstead would have been made from a midship frame held together by iron bolts, and his wife would have been the happiest woman. They thought that he would have had so much authority that he could have drawn fish out of the sea simply by calling their names and that he would have put so much work into his land that springs would have burst forth from among the rocks so that he would have been able to plant flowers on the cliffs. They secretly compared him to their own men, thinking that for all their lives theirs were incapable of doing what he could do in one night…
Esteban is given a personality and flaws throughout this short story while he is dead. It is something that I really liked because in most stories I’ve read, dead people are not given much thought.
But they also knew that everything would be different from then on, that their houses would have wider doors, higher ceilings, and stronger floors so that Esteban’s memory could go everywhere without bumping into beams and so that no one in the future would dare whisper the big boob finally died, too bad, the handsome fool has finally died, because they were going to paint their house fronts gay colors to make Esteban’s memory eternal…
This shows a sort of fantasy element because Esteban caused so much change in such a short amount of time. They grew so attached to a beautiful deceased stranger that they changed their style of living in ode to him.
This story shows how a character can be built with the perception of other characters like they are often done, but this time it’s just based off looks.
- Can Esteban be considered the main character? If not, who is the main character?
- What is something that was magical or fantastical that really stood out?
- What would have the key difference in this story if it was told from a different point of view?