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Themes

"The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" explores the ways in which human beings overcome personal isolation through their collective community. In this story, common beliefs in the mythic or fantastic bring together the members of a small fishing village. The men, women, and children of this community are united by their common desire for self-improvement. Together, they imagine a better future for themselves, a future in which they are as extraordinary as the myths in which they all believe.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Does the drowned man create conflict in the village, or bring the village together? (Your answer might change depending on which part of the story you're examining.)
  2. How does the village's relative isolation from neighboring towns affect the way we read the story?
  3. Why is it so important to the women of the village that they claim the drowned man as their own?

Chew on This

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

The drowned man brings the village together by providing them with a common goal of communal betterment.

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