What has a symbolic meaning to the theme of the story "The Handsomest Drowed Man in the World"?

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clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beauty and discontentedness are two prominent themes in the story, and the corpse himself actually acts as a symbol for each theme.

Beauty takes on an entirely different meaning to the villagers when the man washes ashore. The women of the village had no concept of the kind of beauty that this man brought to their tiny village. They see him in death and think that their men pale in comparison. They can actually feel the change take place within themselves because they think that they will never see any of their own men in the same way. This man is bigger and handsomer than any of their men could ever dream to be.

Esteban (the man's nickname given to him by one of the women) also makes the men angry and feel inferior. Their own self-consciousnesses drive them to insult the man saying that he looks shameful and that he was probably thought of as a boob in his village because his sheer size probably caused him a lot of grief. The actual corpse himself is symbolic of how discontent these villagers could become upon seeing something they could not obtain.

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