I think your question is referring to one of the key themes of this amazing story by Marquez. We are presented in this story with a village and its villagers who seem to be unable to take the initiative and transform their drab, grey and bleak existence into something more beautiful. Yet, the arrival of the drowned man and the subsequent impact he has on the villagers makes them see that they can actually transcend their own limitations and take responsibility themselves, no matter what the odds, to transform their lives and their village into a thing of beauty. Yet, to my mind, there is an element of satire in this story as well. Garcia Marquez is making fun of the human need to look for a superhuman or magic solution to everyday problems and limitations. It is only after being inspired by Esteban that the villagers feel they can achieve their dreams. Yet the author seems to be suggesting that they had this ability all the time - they just lacked the inspiration, which they found in the most unlikely of sources.
The story thus seems to suggest that hard work can achieve anything, but we humans lack the ability or the self-knowledge to see that, and thus need inspiration in the form of heroes that we often create ourselves to give us the initiative to do the hard work that we actually could have done by ourselves all along.