The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World

by Gabriel García Márquez

Start Free Trial

How is the drowned man discovered in "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the short story "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" by Gabriel García Márquez, it is important that the children discover the drowned man's body first. Instead of being frightened by the corpse, the children use their imagination, and while it is still adrift in the ocean, they pretend the corpse is an "enemy ship" (paragraph 1). As it nears the shore, they think it may be a whale because of its size. From the onset, the dead body inspires their fantasies. In fact, once it reaches the beach, the children end up playing with the drowned man all afternoon.

The adults worry when they discover that the children have been playing with a corpse. The men carry the body to the village, and the townspeople believe the dead stranger is the heaviest, tallest, and "most virile" man they have ever seen (paragraph 2). The corpse inspires all the villagers to imagine his name is Esteban. When they finally set Esteban's body out to sea, he has become a part of the village, forever changing the community. The villagers even paint their houses and plant flowers among the rugged cliffs to keep Esteban's memory alive.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Gabriel García Márquez's short story "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World," the drowned man of the title is discovered by children playing on the beach. The children see the corpse floating in on the tide and at first do not know what they are looking at. They imagine that the "dark and slinky bulge approaching through the sea" is "an enemy ship," but as it gets closer, they realize it cannot be a ship and decide it might be a whale. It is only when the corpse washes up on the strand and they remove the clinging seaweed and other debris that they see it is a human body.

The children aren't overly concerned to find a corpse and spend hours playing with it, burying it in sand and uncovering it again. One of the adults in the village finally notices the children are playing with a body, and once the adults are involved, the action of the story truly begins, as they try to determine who the man is and prepare him for burial.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial