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A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

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Abigail Napenas

on 21 September 2014

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Transcript of A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

The story "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is a story that was written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1955. It is included in his book entitled
Leaf Storm.
Marquez's story could be classified under the genre of Magical Realism.
A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
The Characters
The Plot and the Setting
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings
The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
Pelayo
Elisenda
Father Gonzaga
Neighbor Woman
Spider Woman
Pelayo and Elisenda's Son
The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
Pelayo
Elisenda
Father Gonzaga
The Neighbor Woman
Spider Woman
Pelayo and Elisenda's Child
Experiences cruelty from others
Assumed to be a ”fallen angel”
Speaks in a foreign language
Weak and filthy
Very patient
Found the old man and took him to their chicken coop
Ordinary villager
Became wealthy because he used the old man’s unnatural appearance to gain money by turning the old man into a freak show
The wife of Pelayo
Charges for viewing of the old man and makes a lot of money out of it
Fails to see how the presence of the old man has greatly changed their life

Authority figure
Judges whether the old man is an angel or not
Tries to “restrain the enthusiasm and credulousness of crowd”

Bossy
Thought to be wise
Suggested that the old man is a fallen angel
Suggested to club the old man to death
Freak-show attraction
Punished for disobeying parents
Tells her story and takes away the crowd from the old man

At the beginning of the story he was very sick
They assumed that the Old Man was an Angel who came to fetch the child
He eventually got better and played with the old man
Theme, Motifs and Symbols
Wings
represent power, speed and limitless freedom of motion
Angels are beautiful winged creatures but in this story, the wings are conveyed only a sense of age and disease
the wings fit perfectly with the rest of his body which suggests that the old man is supernatural and natural at once

The Spider Woman
The Spider Woman
Represents fickleness of how people approach their own faith
Her tale is far more appealing than the old man's because it is easier to understand and because she is responsive unlike the old man
As a result, the crowd lost interest in the old man and sought out this other peculiar creature instead
Motifs
Prosperity
The presence of the old man brought about prosperity for the couple.
His peculiar form caught the attention of many people and they were willing to pay just to get a glimpse of this supposed Angel.
The couple eventually accumulated a lot of money from it.
They managed to acquire a new house and live a more prosperous life from the wealth that they gained.
Prosperity
Even though they are living a much better life because of the old man, they still fail to see and appreciate it fully.
The presence of the old man continually annoys them even though he is the reason why their life has improved exponentially.

The shift in the praise and in the attention of the people from one creature to another shows how their faith of the people depend on the benefits they receive and the results they get rather than in actually trusting and believing in something
The Spider Woman
Theme
In the narrative, it shows two different sides or responses that exist side by side: Cruelty and Compassion
The story shows how people respond to those who are weak, different and dependent
Theme (Cruelty)
Elisenda and Pelayo want to send the old man on a raft with food good for a few days
They imprisoned him in the chicken coop
They took advantage of the old man by collecting money for viewing
Strangers threw stones at him and burned him with branding iron


Theme (Compassion)
Hardly any signs of compassion in the text but the moments where it was exemplified are very significant in the story.
The old man somehow becomes part of the household
Theme (Compassion)
Elisenda is filled with regret once the old man flew away
The patience of  the old man and his refusal to leave is his way of helping the couple earn money

Hebrews 13:2 in the Bible: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Analysis: Magical Realism and Satire
Blends the ordinary life of Pelayo and Elisenda with the magic and mystery of creatures such as the old man and the spider woman
It is seen in the way he describes the weather, the presence of crabs and composition of the sand in the beach and how all this coexists with an old man who is so filthy but was assumed to be an angel
Analysis: Magical Realism and Satire
Mocks Catholic Church and human nature
Superiors in Rome - in no hurry to discover the truth about the “fallen angel”, ask Father Gonzaga to study the old man’s dialect if it has any relation to Aramaic, language of Jesus
also asked to determine how many times the old man can fit on the head of a pin (reference of an arcane medieval theory to “prove God’s omnipotence”

Analysis: Magical Realism and Satire
final conclusion “stranded Norwegian sailor” - church sound absurdly literal minded
"wisdom of church has never really been needed at all"

Analysis: Magical Realism and Satire
Narrowness of vision that afflicts everyone from wise neighbor woman
Elisenda focusing more on angel-free kitchen and living room rather than noticing the “odd beauty” of the “angel”

"most people live their lives unaware of their significance in the world."


Analysis: Magical Realism and Satire
"What surprised him most, however, was the logic of his wings. They seemed so natural on that completely human organism that he couldn't understand why other men didn't have them too."

fantasy elements into the “grunginess of daily life”
“ serve as a reminder that everyday life is filled with great mysteries and wonders that people overlook too often.”

Analysis: Magical Realism and Satire
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2007. Web. 2 Sept. 2014.
Shmoop Editors. "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Analysis: Setting." Shmoop.com. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.
Shmoop Editors. "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Analysis: Plot." Shmoop.com. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.

Exposition
Exposition
Rising Action
Rising Action
Climax
Climax
Falling Action
Falling Action
Resolution
Resolution
Setting
Setting
One rainy day, a man named Pelayo is throwing dead crabs into the sea when suddenly, something crashes into a beach. It is an old man, covered in filth, with enormous wings erupting from his back. The couple took the old man into their house and observed the peculiar creature.
After overcoming their initial shock, they tried talking to the man but he answered in a language that they could not comprehend. A neighbor woman told them that he was an Angel who tried to take their child's life but ended up crashing because he was so old.
When the old man shows no signs of interest in taking the sick child's life, Elisenda comes up with a way to make money by charging people for viewing the old man with the enormous wings. The old man and his unusual form makes people curious and there are even arguments on whether he is an Angel or not. A priest named Father Gonzaga tries to investigate but his efforts to confirm anything are futile.
The old man becomes a freak show. Instead of him being marveled at and treated properly, they treat him poorly, abuse him even. The people seek miracles from him in the hopes that he is truly an angel. The old man is rather unresponsive unless pushed to his limits.
The crowd continues to devote their attention and mistreat the "angel" as the couple continues to earn more money. In their impatience because the creature does nothing to impress them, the people finally do something to directly assault the old man.
He is finally pushed to his limits when he is poked and burned with a branding iron. The poor creature gives quite a violent reaction because of the pain.
After his violent reaction and all the commotion dies down a bit, the people's attention and interest are diverted to a new freak which shows more promise. This one, the Spider Woman, is responsive and tells a tale that strikes the crowd who once paid so much attention to the old man. His fame fades and years pass by as his condition changes and the lives of the couple continue to change as well.
"A spectacle like that, full of so much human truth and with such a fearful lesson, was bound to defeat without even trying, that of a haughty angel who scarcely deigned to look at mortals."
Many seasons past, some quite harsh, and the old man survives them miraculously. He interacts with the family countless times in those years and sees them grow and change until the day came that he was fully recovered. And then, finally, after so many years, Elisenda sees him fly off into the horizon.
"She kept on watching until it was no longer possible for her to see him, because he was no longer an annoyance in her life but an imaginary dot on the horizon of the sea."
From the sea and the crabs and the Spanish-sounding names of the people, you could say that the story is located in a Spanish speaking area, particularly in a town near the sea. The town would be a very quaint one, seen in how much the people are willing to pay just to see something new and fascinating like the old man.
It is not exactly stated what period of time it is but based on the descriptions about the clothes that the woman purchased, it can be said that it took place a very long time ago and nowhere near the present.
References
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