The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World Questions and Answers
by Gabriel García Márquez

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Compare and contrast the ways in which the children, women, and men react to the drowned man in "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World." How do you account for the differences in their reactions?

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The primary difference in the villagers' reactions to the drowned man in Gabriel García Márquez's story is between the children and the adults. The children are very matter-of-fact. They acknowledge the presence of a corpse on the beach, but their involvement is in their own world of play, so they simply incorporate the body as a new item.

The adults, however, realize the significance and remove the corpse, taking it into the village for burial. At that point, the men's and women's behavior diverges. The men assume the role of investigators, going around to other villages to see if someone is missing (as no one is missing from their own village).

The women take on the responsibility of preparing the body. This activity draws them into elaborate fantasies. The author describes him as so large and well-dressed that they cannot fully incorporate him into their imaginations. They even give him names.

The gender difference is brought home as the women continue to compare the dead man to actual living men, seeing him as superior to those in their daily lives. The men, upon returning, indulge in fantasies as well. They identify with this superior personage. Having someone illustrious, even if already dead, in their village gives them hope for its potential future success.

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