Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

It is easy, in a cynical fashion, to make fun of the villagers in this little story, which Gabriel García Márquez wrote shortly after finishing his great masterpiece, Cien anios de soledad (1967; One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1970). One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles the rise and decline of Macondo, a mythical city representing Latin American society in the period of independence. In some ways, the fishing village in this story is a stripped-down Macondo: The villagers are even more backward, provincial, ignorant, and gullible than the inhabitants of Macondo. Their village is the center of the universe, so instead of moving to a more promising location, they resolve to “break their backs” to turn a rocky promontory into a rose garden. They are inspired by a waterlogged corpse and led by emotional women. For all they know, the drowned man was a scoundrel, and there is no guarantee that their resolutions will ever lead to anything, that the rose garden will become a reality. If One Hundred Years of Solitude mirrors the history of Latin America’s big hopes and bigger failures, is this story a boiled-down version of how the historical cycle begins?

The answer is no. “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” is not so much a repetition of One Hundred Years of Solitude as a coda with a counterpoint theme. The story takes an even more unpromising situation than the one in Macondo and proposes a...

(The entire section is 573 words.)


(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

When a large drowned man washes up on the beach of a tiny fishing village, his presence inspires the villagers to create fantastic stories...

(The entire section is 657 words.)