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Themes

Through the genre of magical realism, this story explores the blurring between myth and reality. What happens when a larger-than-life figure meets the ordinary villagers of an unexceptional little town? "The Handsomest Drowned World" reminds us that we turn to myths as a way of explaining the unexplainable. There's something comforting about having stories that interpret and make accessible the unknown. Myth is also very much a collective experience, shared and carried on by a community.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. In talking about the theme of admiration, we asked which of the drowned man's qualities were real and which the villagers attributed to him out of wishful thinking. But in this story, what's the difference between these two? Is it clear, or is this distinction a blurry line?
  2. How do the villagers intertwine reality with myth when it comes to the drowned man? What sort of myths does the drowned man invoke, and how can these myths be reconciled with reality?
  3. Is the drowned man really Esteban? Does it matter who he is?

Chew on This

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

The beauty of this story is that the drowned man is Esteban, that myth is possible in a world of reality.

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