The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World and Other Stories Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How does the way the villagers react to the discovery of Esteban? Discuss the juxtaposition of the women and the men.

    Márquez’s portrays of human nature by use of contrast. Firstly there is the juxtaposition between the women’s captivation and worship of Esteban and the men’s refusal to participate in the women’s “frivolity.” Yet, absurdly, the stoic men are likewise breathless in the face of Esteban. The women’s instant attraction to the stranger as well as their hyperbolic flow of emotion suggest that humans have a need to invent stories to humanize and therefore understand change. The men’s initial coldness towards the corpse indicates the need for humans to humanize or use imagination in order to experience empathy.

  2. 2

    What is the function of storytelling in this work?

    The function of storytelling appears to be to facilitate delusion. Unaware of his past or his person, the villagers are content with creating the persona of a great and honorable man from the corpse of a complete stranger. Esteban’s great stature and handsome visage is also telling of how human beings are captivated by beauty. The villager’s storytelling reflects a need to be associated with greatness and imagination, preferring to live in the glory of fiction rather than in their “desolation” and “dryness”. The ending of the story describes how the villagers begin to modify their village to keep Esteban’s memory “eternal”.

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