Study Questions for "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" (1968)

Like "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," 'The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" addresses the problem of interpretation. The appearance of the man alters the lives of the inhabitants of the village as they engage in elaborate, sometimes conflicting interpretations. Consider the following issues as you read the story:

  1. In what ways is the village transformed as a result of the appearance of the drowned man?
  2. As a reader, do you accept any of the interpretations posed by the villagers? How do these interpretations function to expose what might have been missing from the lives of the villagers?
  3. By raising the problem of interpretation, does this story, like "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," expose the limits of our ability to provide rational explanation for our experience of the world?
  4. Or, is this simply a children's story, like a fairy tale, that requires no elaborate interpretive judgments?
  5. Compare the endings of the two stories by Marquez. Is one of them more positive or more hopeful than the other?