“A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” Story Analysis

Updated December 29, 2021

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“A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” Story Analysis essay

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The Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez is known all around the world for his literary works, and especially his success with the magical realism style. In this style, the fantastic elements are mixed with reality, and create a world where a different attitude to the real prevails. The goal of magical realism is to unravel reality to discover what is mysterious there and at the same time add imagination to the actions and abilities of the human being.

The tail tells the story of a man who appears in a town. That man appeared near the house of Pelayo and Elisenda. The people that lived in the town, believed that this man was an angel, and is considered as such because of his wings. The news of his arrival spread throughout the town. The inhabitants really believed that he was an angel, even though he looked like a very old man who had no resemblance to a normal angel, while the parish priest thinks the opposite. The angel had the reputation of being a miracle maker and many people wanted him to help them. But his fame faded, due to the arrival of a circus that showed a woman who had been turned into a spider for disobeying her parents. From that moment, the angel loses his reputation, until one day, he takes flight and leaves the town.

The most interesting events take place from the appearance this unusual figure in the town, which was apparently an angel. The interesting thing about this creature is that it mixes, not only a fantasy combination of animal and human elements, but also divine elements, and goes beyond itself, focusing on the expectation it generates around it. It is clear that, from the beginning, it works as an excuse to raise the popular uses of religiosity, but the story proposes a different form of the marvelous from certain elements that work in a more complex way within the rhetoric of the monstrosity. From here is structured a text that involves a particular way of conceiving the constructions and derivations of what is represented as a constant difference throughout the narrative of its author.

The story has two characters that represent the magical realism: the angel and the woman turned into a spider. The angel was a mixture between something real, which is represented by the image of a man, and the fantastic, that is represented by the wings that he carried on his back. The other rarity is that it is described in a way totally opposite to a typical angel, who is young and divine. His way of dressing was like a very poor person, as well as having a couple of very careless wings. ‘He was dressed like a ragpicker. There were only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth, and his pitiful condition of a drenched great-grandfather took away any sense of grandeur he might have had. His huge buzzard wings, dirty and half-plucked were forever entangled in the mud. ‘(Garcia 1). The woman with the spider body is the other mix of the real and imaginary in this story. Also, there are other people mentioned briefly with strange elements, for example, the girl counting the beating of her heart that no longer has numbers and the man tormented by the noise of the stars.

The author sends a message about the ignorance of the people and that many of them are unable to accept different realities. The author through magical realism provides us with themes of reflection on human nature, establishing, in addition, a social criticism against people who do not accept the unknown by showing the limits of human reason. In the story, Pelayo and Elisenda could not explain the existence of an angel, but then, somehow, they find something familiar in him: ‘They looked at him so long and so closely that Pelayo and Elisenda very soon overcame their surprise and in the end found him familiar ‘(Garcia 1). The people also don’t accept the existence of something supernatural and prefer not to complicate their understanding.

That’s why it is not uncommon that when the woman who turned into a spider appears, the people give their preference to her because she has an understandable explanation about her dazzling change. People preferred the simplicity of the explanation about the spider woman. That’s why she ends up being the new ‘star’ of the town, leaving the angel almost in oblivion. The purpose of the use of uncommon elements together with the symbolism is to exaggerate certain situations and to express their opinion on the mentality in terms of different or unknown ideas. This also allows the reader to accept supernatural occurrences, although they are impossible events in the real world.

Something that is also very important is the presence of certain ideas around the characters. For example, in one part of the story, Pelayo and Elisenda represent opportunism. They see the angel as a way to earn money taking advantage that he is at home. They start charging each person who wants to see the angel, and thanks to all that money they earn, they become rich but making the angel suffer: ‘The owners of the house had no reason to lament. With the money, they saved a two-story mansion with balconies and gardens and high netting so that crabs would not get in during the winter…Pelayo also set up a rabbit warren close to town and have up his job as a bailiff for good…'(Garcia 3). They took the opportunity that was presented to them to benefit no matter what might happen to the angel. As a second example, the concept of faith was represented by all the people, by the inhabitants.

Everyone truly believed that the man is an angel, that’s why many people from different parts of the world and with different types of problems or illnesses, come to him to ask for his help and to do a miracle, but after seeing that the miracles that the angel performed were not as they expected, these people and everyone, in general, began to lose that faith they had in him: ‘Besides, the few miracles attributed to the angel showed a certain mental disorder, like the blind man who did not recover his sight but grew three new teeth, or the paralytic who did not get to walk but almost won the lottery, and the leper whose sores sprouted sunflowers. Those consolation miracles / which were more like mocking fun had already ruined the angel’s reputation…'(Garcia 3). The faith that these people had, was affected because their requests were not fulfilled.

“A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” Story Analysis essay

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“A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” Story Analysis. (2021, Dec 29). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/a-very-old-man-with-enormous-wings-story-analysis/


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