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This is an interesting question because there appears to be a distinction between the male and female members of the village, though at the end of the story all are united in their acceptance of the drowned man as "Esteban", who they claim for their own.
It is the women who initially care for the corpse of the dead man - they remove the debris of the sea and are amazed to discover what they find when they have scraped off all of the seaweed, shells and barnacles:
Not only was he the tallest, strongest, most virile, and best-built man they had ever seen, but even though they were looking at him there was no room for him in their imagination.
It is the women then who first fall under the drowned man's spell, if we can use that term. They create a mythical life for him, and then a more hum-drum existence, calling him "Esteban" and imagining the difficulties that he had in life because of his size. It is the women who insist on a lavish funeral.
The men, who go out to other villages to check that the dead man is not from nearby, dismiss the "fuss" the women are making as "womanish frivolity" and just want to get rid of the corpse. As the women protest and try and adorn the litter with charms, the men argue with the women, which leads one of them to remove the handkerchief covering the corpse's face and then the men "recognise" Esteban for themselves. After this the villagers, both male and female, are united in creating a lavish funeral for the drowned corpse and are likewise united in their determination to transcend their limitations and transform their lives.
Thus the villagers, at first, differ in their response to the drowned corpse - the women quickly are drawn in by his magic, whereas the men take a little longer to fall under his spell, but by the end of the story all villagers are united in their desire to honour Esteban's life and change their community.
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