Kathleen Wilson (Editor), Short Stories for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, Volume 1, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Published by Gale, 1997. Because no exact location is named and the villagers appear to be isolated from the outside world, the village has the feel of a faraway land. Furthermore, the point of view shifts away from the villagers at certa… The simplicity with which “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” is told conceals a rather complex narrative technique. The villagers, finding a drowned man on their beach, begin to admire and then love him as they prepare him for proper burial. The village does not have modern technology; they use a primitive, wheelless sled to convey Esteban to his funeral. That a dead man can have so much influence on a village full of people who seem used to finding drowning victims on their beach creates a sense that this event is something extraordinary. The villagers, finding a drowned man on their beach, begin to admire and then love him as they prepare him for proper burial. The simplicity with which “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” is told conceals a rather complex narrative technique. Even in a story as short as “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” one can find allusions to the biblical story of Jonah (through the children’s assumption that the form washing ashore is a beached whale), Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (in which a shipwrecked man washes ashore in a country full of tiny people), and even the Greek god Zeus, whose sexual prowess highlights many Greek myths. It is their conceptualization of the drowned man, not any objective viewpoint, that the reader receives. It represents something magic or mythical, but also something real. The third-person narrator, however, only describes the man through the eyes of the villagers. In the case of Garcia Marquez, credit is also given to the influence of his maternal grandmother, a storyteller whose magical tales affected Garcia Marquez’s imagination very early in life. Like Esteban, Quetzalcoatl leaves via the sea, promising a return that leaves a lasting expectation in those he leaves behind. The women’s crying at Esteban’s funeral has a similar effect: “Some sailors who heard the weeping from a distance went off course and people heard of one who had himself tied to the mainmast, remembering ancient fables about sirens.” The abundant allusions in the story suggest that the various cultures that Garcia Marquez refers to are more closely related than is often imagined. Garcia Marquez also makes an allusion to the Greek warrior Odysseus, whose adventures are chronicled in Homer’s Odyssey. Although the term was first used to refer to a modern type of painting in the 1920s, magic realism later became associated with a particular type of fiction, especially that written by Latin Americans in the 1950s and 1960s. The setting of the story is also more complex than it first seems. Esteban’s name alludes to two historical figures: St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, whose name is the English translation of Esteban; and Estevanico, an African who explored parts of the New World in the 1500s. What brings the story into the realm of the fabulous is the reaction of the villagers, whose response to his arrival is anything but ordinary. More obvious allusions include the notion that Esteban connotes the ancient god Quetzalcoatl, who in Aztec myth emphasizes peacefulness and self-sacrifice when he comes from the sea. It is their conceptualization of the drowned man, not any objective viewpoint, that the reader receives. Thus the story is neither fantasy, nor reality, but a combination of the two. The third-person narrator, however, only describes the man through the eyes of the villagers. The arrival of a “Wednesday dead body” on the shore of a fishing village is not necessarily a magical event. Nevertheless, the seaside village is very similar to the coastal areas near Garcia Marquez’s childhood home, and the ocean liners mentioned at the end of the story verify that this is an actual location in the present day which can be reached. Every culture has its saints and its heroes; “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” demonstrates the process through which these figures become important in their respective cultures. Thus the story occupies a timeless, prehistoric era. Garcia Marquez is well-known for his ability to blend native South American legends with European myths and stories. The mythical namelessness of the village and the historically vague setting add to this perception. The village, then, exists both as a faraway, mythical place, and as an actual locale. The impulse behind magic realism is often attributed to several factors, including the superstition of Latin America’s indigenous populations. The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World AudioBook - YouTube Odysseus’s seafaring adventures include a voyage past the Sirens, whose irresistible singing could not be heard by any man without him abandoning his destination and turning toward them. Magic realist fiction incorporates both fantastic events and realistic details. The Handsomest Drowned Man In The World Lyrics The first children who saw the dark and slinky bulge approaching through the sea let themselves think it was an enemy ship. Furthermore, the point of view shifts away from the villagers at certain times in the narrative, such as when the imaginary hostess worries about her chair and he “never knowing perhaps that the ones who said don’t go, Esteban, at least wait till the coffee’s ready, were the ones who later on would whisper the big boob finally left, how nice, the handsome fool has gone.” This complex approach to narration provides cues not only about Esteban, but about the villagers themselves as they view him in the context of their own lives.
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