The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World (Marquez)
A dead man floats to shore. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke or a horror movie, but wait: it gets weirder. He's super tall, super good-looking, and all the local villagers get hearts in their eyes at the mere thought of him. He's still dead, though, so where does the story go from here?
|Author||Márquez - Gabriel García Márquez|
Men and Masculinity
Versions of Reality
We’re still waiting for the iPad microchip that gets implanted in our brains. That’ll
be sweet. But… why our obsession? Why does size…
ahem… matter? In The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World,
the residents of the fishing village are impressed by the dead man’s beauty…
…but they are equally blown away by his incredible stature.
They admire his size and are inspired by it…
…they even vow to start building their houses bigger, so as to be worthy of the stranger.
Because clearly this Estaban fellow would have been a huge fan of “open concept.”
We certainly embrace this same sort of idea in our own culture, but why?
Is it simply because things and people of imposing size inspire awe?
The Grand Canyon wouldn’t attract quite so many tourists if it was a foot deep.
You probably can’t name many shorter mountains, but Everest and K2 sure get a lot of our attention.
When we see something bigger than ourselves, perhaps we’re reminded of how small and
insignificant we are in this vast universe…
…and we put it up on a pedestal.
It’s certainly true of the villagers in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ story.
Although… the guy was a little heavy, so it was a bit easier just to float him back
out to sea than to put him anywhere. Or are we obsessed with size because we wish
we were bigger ourselves? Human beings are capable of great feats, but
we can’t make ourselves much bigger than we are.
Not without some serious pizza consumption. Showing admiration for those things that exhibit
more mass than we do may be our way of emulating what we want to be…
…larger than life. Of course, there’s a third possibility.
Maybe we’re… um… compensating for something smaller?
We all have our… shortcomings…
…could our reverence for the big and tall be an effort to bury our insecurities about
the things in our lives that makes us feel small, weak or vulnerable?
Those villagers, for example, didn’t seem to be exuding confidence.
One oversized dead guy washes up on their shore and all of a sudden they’ve got a
Perhaps Estaban was a distraction for them from their own anxiety and self-doubt…
What do you think?
Are we inspired by the grandeur of the big and mighty?
Is size a symbol of something we wish we could be ourselves?
Or is it a distraction from our… smaller aspects?
Shmoop amongst yourselves.