The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World by Gabriel García Márquez
In The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World by Gabriel García Márquez we have the theme of compassion, dignity, respect, connection, identity and change. Taken from his Collected Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Márquez may be exploring the theme of compassion. Those in the village feel sympathy and compassion for Esteban. Something that is noticeable by the way in which the villagers care for Esteban. It is as though they wish to bury Esteban with dignity. A dignity that he may not have had while he was alive due to the actual size of Esteban and the belief of those in the village that others may have considered Esteban to be a hindrance. This may be important as Márquez may be highlighting the fact that those who live in the village are decent and are not affected by what some might consider to be Esteban’s abnormalities. If anything Esteban is welcomed by those in the village with each member of the village making a connection with Esteban. A connection that the reader is aware comes from the ability of those in the village to feel empathy for Esteban.
How compassionate those in the village are is noticeable by the care that is given to Esteban’s body. Though he is a complete stranger the women in the village make clothes for Esteban while the men try and discover Esteban’s true identity. If anything those in the village treat Esteban as one of their own. It is also interesting that those in the village try and picture Esteban’s life as this would further play on the theme of identity and connection. It might also be important that the villagers imagine that Esteban may have some sort of special gift (springs from the rocks) as in many ways this would highlight just how different Esteban may be to those in the village. It may also be a case that the villagers value physical attractiveness and strength. Two attributes which the villagers feel that Esteban has. The fact that the village is so small and isolated could also be important as Márquez may be using the setting of the village to suggest that those who live in the village have not been tainted by modernity. They have traditional values which they believe in and which they believe in practicing.
The fact that Esteban is given a family prior to his burial may also be important as those in the village may not believe that anybody should be alone. If anything there is a community who are supporting Esteban. Something that is clearly noticeable by the fact that everybody in the village gets involved with Esteban’s burial. If anything Esteban manages to bring everybody in the village together. Even though there is some bickering by the men about the care that the women are giving to Esteban. This is soon forgotten when it comes to Esteban’s burial. Though very little is known about the villagers the fact that Esteban is given a Christian name (Stephen) suggests that those in the village may follow a Christian tradition. There is also a sense that those in the village will miss Esteban after his burial. Even though he is a stranger to them. It may also be significant that those in the village do not fear Esteban despite the fact that he is different to them. This might suggest that the villagers have an acceptance of others. Regardless of what they might look like or where they might come from.
The end of the story is also interesting as Márquez appears to be exploring the theme of change. Such is Esteban’s impact on the lives of the villagers that they know they need to change. Simple things like doors being wider or beams made higher are some of the things that they villagers feel they must change. This may be important as by implanting some changes the villagers are being more inclusive. Though they have never meet someone like Esteban before. They will be prepared for meeting someone who might be similar to him in the future. Similarly as a mark or respect and in memory of Esteban the villagers intend to paint their houses gay colours. Also so deep is the villagers connection with Esteban that there is a sense of loneliness in the village after Esteban’s burial. So dedicated were the villagers to ensuring that Esteban had a proper funeral they feel lost without him. Though again he was a stranger to them. Which may be the point that Márquez is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that in life an individual may meet another individual who is different to them but who will inevitably change their life. Just as Esteban has changed the lives of those who live in the village. If anything Esteban’s memory will live on.