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THE HANDSOMEST DROWNED MAN

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Interpreting
1a. Compare and contrast the ways in which children, women, and men react to the drowned man.
CHILDREN
The children played with the drowned man as if it (he) was just a toy. It was shown in the 2nd paragraph,
1st sentence of the story: "They had been playing with it all afternoon, burying him in and digging him up
again...." In fact, when the body was still approaching, they thought it was a warship, then a whale.
WOMEN
The revered and adored the drowned man. First, upon looking at its (his) stature and expression, they
noticed that it (he) died with pride, unlike any other drowned men. Second, after cleaning it (him), they
realized thst it (he) was "the tallest, strongest, most virile, and best built man they had ever seen." And
that "there was no room for it (him) in their imagination." This realization "left them breathless."
Interestingly, they treated the drowned man not as a mere object, but as a living man. This was shown on
how they took care of him: they gave it a name; look after it; dressed it; combed and shaved its(his) hair,
cut its(his) nails, adorned it(him), made an altar for it(him), and other many other thing. They even
fantasized with it (him).
MEN
They saw the drowned man as bothersome and thought the fuss was only womanish frivolity." They
wanted to get rid of it (him) as much as possible for the impact it (he) was creating was already affecting
their normal lives, especially their wives'. They had actually improvised a way to end it once and for all.
Also, they were already irritated by their wives' uncanny behavior: "They walked about like startled hens,
pecking with the sea charms on their breasts, some interfering on one side to put a scapular...." They also
began to feel unsecured and mistrust themselves thinking that their wives' efforts were futile for the
drowned man was already dead and eventually will be eaten by sharks no matter what they do. For them,
the drowned man was just a "piece of cold Wednesday meat." These attitudes toward the drowned man
was later altered.
b) The differences in their reactions has something to do with their age and gender. Children, because of
their age, will see almost everything as a plaything or if not, a distorted reality. Of course, it depends on
their rearing and background, but in the story it seemed to be implied. In the case of the women, it seems
that they were depicted as imaginative and sympathetic. On the other hand, men were portrayed as
doubtful, pragmatic, and insecure.
2. How does the drowned man's stature contrast with the dimensions of the village?
village: twenty-odd wooden houses that had stone courtyards with no flowers and which were spread

about on the end of a desert-like cape; so little land; small fishing village; strong winds
drowned man: tallest, biggest, strongest, most virile, best built
The most obvious contrast between the drowned man and village was size. The village has small doors,
ceilings, beds, clothes, shoes, men, while the drowned man was huge and tall.
Also, the drowned man was best built while the village's wooden houses were of the odd and probably
crude and weak.
And it seems that the drowned man's virility juxtaposed with flowerless-ness of the courtyards. They were
dull and unappealing.
3. What does the drowned man come to symbolize for the people of the village?
The drowned man symbolized a slap on the villagers' faces, a wake-up call for them to realize that they
were living a very mediocre life and that they weren't maximizing what they have.
Also, aside from presenting a totally opposite image of the village's situation, the drowned man projected
an image of what the village/they can be if they'd only strip out their mediocrity and explore countless,
fruitful possibilities for progress and development.
4. a&b)
How does the spirit of the villagers change as a result of their experience with Esteban?
In what way do their new plans for the village reflect this change?
The spirit of the villagers was rejuvenated. They were now aware of the "desolation of their streets, the
dryness of their courtyards, the narrowness of their dreams." Because of this renewed spirit, they are now
"going to paint their house fronts gay colors...and they were going to break their backs digging for
springs among stones and planting flowers on the cliff...." All thanks to Esteban! Now, people are now
imagining and dreaming high and, soon, will be putting all of it into a complete reality. And I think, it is
not just in terms of their physical realms, but also in terms of their mindsets and aspirations.
5&6. How is the nature of the village's transformation hinted at in the story's subtitle, "A Tale for
Children"? Some critics characterized Garcia Marquez's style of writing
I think, it has to do with the structure and fantastic/magical element employed in the story which are
commonly used in children's tales. It follows a plot, situated and narrated in a fantastic/magical manner,
wherein a naughty child, after being put into a test will eventually learn his/her lesson and be good
again. This provides a hint as to what transformation the village has to undergo. I believe that this format
was intentionally used, as reflected in the subtitle, to suspend the cynicism of the adult readers and to
allow them to be immersed in the text.
However, the story doesnt just present to us a simple children's tale; it also presents to us big ideas/issues

which concerns/criticizes a village/society hampered and plagued by mediocrity, which I think isn't a
theme appropriate for a child because he/she still has no full capacity to digest it. That is to say that the
story wasn't really/only meant for children. It was actually meant to criticize a system, mindset, or social
issue.
This certain effect was achieved by using fantastic/magical mode (handsomest drowned man who was
later named a mythological name, Esteban) to portray/criticize/comment/preach on a certain social issue
(collective mediocrity). I believe this kind of writing can classified under the phrase "magical realism."

APPLYING
7. Philosophers have sometimes expressed the idea that the key to releasing human potential is to expand
people's imaginations. Explain how this story supports this notion.
To imagine is to surpass limitations set to us by constructs embedded in our by our society. Imagination
allows us to transform abstractions (desires, aspirations) into images or mental pictures, which has the
capacity to evoke our senses (sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste). These images, I think, is very close to
real experiences for it is also capable of causing emotional, attitudinal, and physical reactions. In the
case of the villagers, the dead man functioned as an abstraction made real and much more, an
impossible abstraction, an abstraction that had never crossed their mind. This encounter with the dead
man enabled them to assess and reimagine their lives and dispositions. This also allowed them to go
beyond whats there and actualize the images they have in their mind.

THE HAPPY MAN


Najib Mahfouz
Interpreting
1. As the story begins, the main character feels as though he has finally defeated fear, anxiety, sickness
and death. What does this overwhelming optimism indicate about his feeling of happiness?

It points out that his feeling of happiness is absolute and pure that he cannot feel any emotion apart from
it.
2. Why do you think the happy man insists on justifying his feeling?
He insists on justifying because he finds it abnormal or unnatural to in a state of happiness given the
horrors of life and bloody tragedies of the world (Vietnam, Angola, and Palestine).
3. When the happy man asks Am Beshir if perfect happiness is impossible, Am Beshir replies:
Well, this is the nature of life. Explain Am Beshirs reply.
Perfect happiness is impossible because its meaning actually depends on its counterpart emotion/s.
Without the feeling of sadness, fear, anxiety, sickness and death, theres no way for us to really determine
whether we are really happy. In addition, these contrasting emotions add some spice to our lives.
4. The happy mans political opponent accuses him of being unable to compromise. Do you agree with his
judgment? Why or why not?
Although the happy man was indeed uncompromising living intensely with his own nervesfighting
fiercely I still dont agree with the rivals judgment. Especially, when rival recounted the yesterdays
discussion on racism and said that there was no point in getting really angry about it, because he believes
that racism is just an abstract and intellectual concept. He doesnt see it as a real phenomenon. I see the
rival as an intellectual who is not grounded on reality, on what is happening. On the other hand, the
happy man was just so grounded, immersed on the reality of the issue, thats why hes so critical and
serious about it.
5. Study the paragraph that begins, His heart would not release a single drops of its joys. What does the
paragraph suggests about the happy mans character?
It suggests that the happy man was a pessimistic person, hardened by the troubles and worries of life
wifes death, sons emigration to Canada, etc.

6. (a) Find quotations from the story that prove that the happy man has not defeated fear, anxiety,
sickness, and death.
Suddenly he felt that the office was too small for him; he had no desire to work at all. The mere thought
of his daily work was treated with absolute indifference and contempt.
Yes, it was terrifying, coming as it did from nowhere, violent to the point of exhaustion and paralyzing
his will.
But the event seem to him as a series of movements without meaning or effect.

How did this fabulous happiness assault him? For how long could he carry this intolerable burden?
Will this feeling deprive him of his work and friends, of his sleep and peace of mind?
He felt very lonely in the company of this overwhelming happiness, without a friend or guide to help
him.
(b) Discuss the ways in which the happy man was alienated