The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World

by Gabriel García Márquez

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How do villagers give Esteban a "splendid funeral" in "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World"?

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In "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" by Gabriel García Márquez, the villagers give a splendid funeral to Esteban by gathering lots of flowers, inviting many attendees from nearby villages, and adopting the drowned man as a relative. Before this, they prepare him for the funeral by cleaning him up, cutting his nails, shaving him, and making clothes for him.

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In the short story "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" by Gabriel García Márquez, a very large drowned man washes ashore near a poor remote seaside village. He is virtually a giant compared to the locals, and as the women clean him off, they are struck by his attractiveness. As a prelude to his funeral, they scrape off the mud, clean stones out of his hair, and sew makeshift clothes for him from a piece of sailcloth. They also comb his hair, cut his nails, and shave him. Because he is a stranger and not a local from any of the nearby villages, they don't know his name, so they give him the name of Esteban.

In this isolated village, it is the custom to throw the dead off the cliffs into the sea. Because Esteban is so large and heavy, the men make a litter from "foremasts and gaffs," and tie it together with rigging. They consider tying an anchor to the man so he will sink into deep waters, but in the end they decide not to weigh him down. Like the women, they have become so enamored of him that they want to make it possible that he might wash ashore again.

For the "most splendid funeral they could ever conceive for an abandoned drowned man," the women go to nearby villages and gather flowers. They tell the women in the other villages, who gather even more flowers. Ultimately, there are "so many flowers and so many people that it was hard to walk about." The villagers don't want to send Esteban to sea as an orphan, so they all posthumously adopt him. After Esteban's funeral, the villagers beautify their village in his honor.

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