Short Story Analysis: The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World

“The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” is a short story written by Gabriel García Márquez. The story is set in a small scantily populated village that lies near the shore of the sea. The story presents the occurrences in the village following the finding of the body of a man on the shore of the village. It explains the responses of the people of the village to the body and the changes that the body brings within the minds and the hearts of the people in the village. In order to understand “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” one needs to discuss the plot, setting, characters, point of view, and theme of the story.

The plot of the story relates to the finding of a drowned body in a small village. The body is discovered by children who tend to play with it until an adult comes and raises alarm on the issue. The village gathers and the body is taken to a house. The men go to the nearby villages to inquire if the drowned man belongs to any of those villages. At the same time, the women tend to see the drowned man and realize that he must have been a very handsome and dignified man. It is seen that the man is very heavy and tall in comparison to all the people in the village. The women clean the body from the weeds and other underwater plants that have stuck to his body and provide respect to him. They stitch clothes for him and cover his face. The young women fantasize about him and believe that he must have been very a manly and honorable man. They believe that he must have had strong command over his activities and his wife would have been really happy with him. Furthermore, they also sympathize with him that he must have found it difficult to sit on chairs whenever he would visit people and people may have talked about his built behind his back. But they still admired the drowned man. An elderly woman named him as Esteban.

The men return to the village and they see the drowned man’s face and also become aware of his strong presence. His dignity attracts everyone from the village and a proper and organized funeral service is carried out for him. Relatives are assigned to him from people within the village and his body is covered with flowers and other ornaments that are kept on the bodies as per the village’s rituals. His body is thrown down the cliff into the sea as is the custom in the village for disposing of the dead bodies. The villagers wish that his body would come back into the village and they wish to work on their village and create huge doors and paint their houses and grow flowers in the memory of the drowned man.

Márquez has used the best setting for writing this story to describe the situation. It has been set in a small village which lies very close to the sea. The villagers lived in houses which are described to by him in these words, “wooden houses that had stone courtyards with no flowers and which were spread about on the end of a desert-like a cape.” Thus he showed that it was a very simple village where people were not very indulged in attaining the privileges of life. Their simple nature drags them to take the body. He shows the influence that the drowned man has on the village and uses the reference of their dull living conditions which would be bright had the drowned man lived there. Therefore, he uses the drowned man, the sea and the village to explain the influence of the drowned man on the village.

The villagers are identified to be very simple and good natured people. They take the body in one of their houses. The men are helping and go around taking information about the man from the other villages. The women are also very kind and use whatever they have to clean the body and start stitching clothes for the man. They fantasize about the man which highlights their simplicity. The villagers are united and they stand together for the arrangements of a proper funeral for the drowned man.
The story highlights the theme of how certain important occurrences can change the life of people. The drowned man symbolizes an important happening that changes the lives of all the people in the village. The village is considered to be a sad place which is portrayed by the outlook of the houses in the village. It is explained to give the appearance of a “desert”. The drowned man creates inspiration and invokes feelings of the attainment of color and happiness in their lives. When the villagers are completing the funeral of the body, they decide that they would color their houses and start a new life.

In my opinion, “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World,” is a perfectly written story that uses symbols and themes to signify the importance of changes that can occur in the life of people due to certain occurrences. The setting of the village and the houses along with their characters perfectly assist in explaining the theme of the story.