What do the flowers in "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" symbolize?

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rshaffer | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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When the villagers find the drowned man and begin a search to find out what neighborhood he belongs to, the women tend to him noticing not only how muscular and large he is, but also the vegetation growing on him.  They begin attached to him and personalize this stranger by giving him the name Esteban.  Through caring for this stranger, they come to realize that there is more to live than death; there is beauty.  The power of beauty makes them look around at their stone-like aesthetic village as well as their character.  With this realization, they plant flowers on the edge of the cliff so that strangers may see their beauty from afar.  Thus, the flowers symbolize beauty, which further symbolizes the power of beauty to change their character and lives forever.