A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Essay Example
A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Essay Example

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Essay Example

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Although set in an extraordinary location, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is a beautifully crafted story that delves into the complexities of human nature. The author's lyrical writing style conjures up images of traditional folklore where reality and fantasy are intertwined. Garcia Marquez was born in 1928 in Aracataca, a small Colombian town where he was raised by his grandmother.

The celebrated author, who studied law at a Jesuit school and worked as a journalist, settled in Europe after being assigned to Rome in 1954. He is most famous for winning the Nobel Prize for his literary works, such as "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (1967) and "Love in the Time of Cholera" (1985). One of his notable pieces is the short story "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings," which has a similar atmosphere to


"One Hundred Years of Solitude." The story recounts an angel's descent into Pelayo's courtyard during continuous rain. While trying to care for his sick child and rid their house of crabs amid non-stop rainfall, Pelayo found the old man lying face down in mud with large wings preventing him from standing up. Initially believing he was a sailor because he spoke unintelligibly with a sailor's accent, Pelayo and Elisenda were fascinated by this stranger's oddities.

After the old man with wings appeared, a "wise" woman declared him to be an "angel" who had come for the child, upon seeing his wings. However, this angel's presence became an ironic spectacle, as it defied popular beliefs. Typically, angels are feminine and ageless with golden hair, yet this particular angel did not fit this description.

In contrast to their usual

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depiction as spiritual beings, the angel in the story is portrayed as an elderly man with large wings that impedes his movement. He lies face down in the mud and is described as having few teeth and hair on his bald head, with his appearance reminiscent of a drenched great-grandfather rather than one of grandeur. In a departure from popular culture's portrayal of beautiful angels, this one has parasites living on his wings, resembling those found on regular feathered animals.

Despite being an intermediary between God and man, the angel is viewed more as a "man" than a divine being. This is due to his completely human form, which even the doctor acknowledges. Additionally, the fact that the angel gets sick and nearly dies contradicts the idea of divinity. Ultimately, people do not view or treat him as a divine figure.

The angel was imprisoned in Pelayo's chicken coop and received no respect from people. He was viewed more like a circus animal than a supernatural being, and was even compared to a "huge decrepit hen" among the fascinated chickens. Pelayo and Elisenda noticed people increasingly crowding their home to see the angel, so they began charging five cents per person. They became rich from this spectacle, treating the angel as if it were a circus attraction from the very beginning. Eventually, people grew tired of the unresponsive angel, causing it to lose its spectators.

All of the townspeople gathered to witness a new attraction at the circus: the transformation of a lonely maiden into a spider. However, the angel who appeared in their town was not treated reverently or welcomed as a messenger of good news.

Despite being referred to as divine beings, one neighbor proclaimed angels to be "fugitive survivors of a celestial conspiracy." The town priest, Father Gonzaga, even attempted to communicate with the angel in Latin, the language believed to be favored by God. Yet, the irony persisted as the angel did not seem to understand or acknowledge their attempts at greeting and communication.

The angel lacked the majestic grace of angels so he was considered a "Norwegian with wings" as he couldn't comprehend Latin. His miracles were ironically comical rather than awe-inspiring, unlike those performed by angels who can heal and perform other humanly impossible feats.

Despite his miraculous abilities, the angel consistently fell short in his attempts. Instead of restoring the blind man's sight, he grew three new teeth; instead of enabling the paralytic to walk again, he nearly won the lottery; and rather than healing the leper's sores, they transformed into sunflowers. These ineffective miracles earned him ridicule and turned him into a circus attraction, damaging his reputation. Elisenda and Pelayo found him to be more of a burden than a source of joy or levity. When he finally regained use of his wings and departed, Elisenda felt relieved - a stark contrast to the typical expectation that an angel's arrival would bring good news and reassurance.

Although the angel was the main attraction, he remained detached from the spectacle happening around him. It is ironic that he showed no interest in his surroundings, despite being directly affected by them. While all others participated in their own act, he stayed silent in his chicken coop. This irony suggests that he lived in a separate dimension and was

different from everyone else, even though physically present among them. His supernatural nature made him immune to both his environment and appearance. Despite failing to play the role of an angel convincingly, his inherent angelic essence endured.

Despite his patient demeanor being compared to that of a cataclysm at rest, the angel remained friendly with children, as one would expect of a typical angel. Through the angel's presence, Pelayo and Elisenda's ailing child was cured, leading to the child becoming inseparable from the angel. They spent their time together in the chicken coop and even contracted chicken pox together. Although generally aloof, the angel tolerated the child's actions and acted as a kind of guardian angel throughout the child's youth. This was not the typical imaginary friend role many angels might take on in similar circumstances.

Despite trying to disguise his golden wings as twigs from a scarecrow, the angel's visibility made it difficult for him to gain altitude when it was time to go. These ironies, representative of Gabriel García Márquez’ literary style, emphasize the themes present in the short story.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez employs magical realism, visible in both "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," where supernatural elements blend seamlessly into ordinary settings. This transforms the extraordinary into something commonplace, producing a sense of wonder and enchantment.

By implementing magical realism, Gabriel García Márquez presents an aged angel that embodies human qualities and lacks any extraordinary abilities except for his wings. This literary technique humanizes the supernatural while portraying the angel as a mere mortal rather than a divine entity. The utilization of magical realism in the

characterization of the angel creates a charming folktale sensation and highlights the story's central theme of people's skepticism and tendency to judge based on appearances. Due to his human-like attributes, people doubt the angel's identity despite his wings, failing to exhibit typical angelic qualities.

Despite being an angel, he was not recognized as such by the Church and instead referred to as a "Norwegian with wings" due to his complete opposite appearance. The townspeople treated him poorly, as he was old, ugly, and deemed useless in the short story. Had he possessed the typical angelic qualities of agelessness and beauty, he would have been readily welcomed with food and shelter instead of enduring mockery and mistreatment.

The shed offered the best shelter for the angel in Pelayo and Elisenda's home. Greed is also a prominent theme in the story. Upon seeing how many people gathered in their home because of the angel, Elisenda and Pelayo charged five cents per person. They capitalised on the situation and became wealthy as a result. Although they used the angel to acquire wealth, their greed prevented them from giving him and his chicken coop any attention beyond that.

Despite building a large house with gardens and Elisenda purchasing extravagant clothing, the chicken coop where the angel was stationed remained unaltered. The angel was left stranded beside the dung heap without any attempts at repair and was not granted permission to reside within the lavish house. These themes and ironies serve as reminders of our innate humanity. This interpretation of "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" illustrates how even amidst fantastical and magical elements, reality and human nature reign supreme. It also

highlights our tendency to reject that which we cannot comprehend.

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