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Themes

"The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" explores what it means for a person to be great, and what effect such a person can have on those who admire him or her. Admiration can be directed outward, but at some point, the story teaches us, it turns inward, toward the self, and manifests as a desire for self-betterment.

Questions About Admiration

  1. How many of the drowned man's admirable qualities are real, and how many are made up by the townspeople?
  2. Why do the villagers admire the drowned man so much? Why are his size and beauty so impressive?
  3. How does the worth of the drowned man change the worth of the small town where he is found?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

When the villagers admire the drowned man, they are really just projecting onto him the qualities they find to be valuable.

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