“A very old man with enormous wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez essay

The story makes a dual impression: it is a simple narration, and at the same time it raises serious philosophic problems. The story tells about how an angel who fell down from heaven was treated by people. The title doesn’t actually explain whether it was angel or not. This uncertainty is visible through the whole story. We also see how people were afraid of this obscurity and tried to explain unknown things. The mistress of the house Pelayo was also afraid of the old man. On the one hand he had a pitiful and harmless sight, but on the other hand nobody actually knew who he was. Her neighbor, who thought she knew everything of earth and heaven worlds, said this angel was going to take her sick child, but fell down. The angel looked like a usual man, if not to take in to account his enormous wings. People however took on trust neighbor’s assumption and considered him to be a fallen angel.

He was dressed like a rag picker. There were only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth [”¦] His huge buzzard wings, dirty and half-plucked, were in mud (Marquez, 1972).

This short description shows that his appearance was not corresponding to our traditional understanding of an angel. Moreover people treated him very badly and somebody even wanted him to be killed. He was locked in a stinking hen-house for a long time. Marquez shows that people are often deceived with outward appearance.

Marquez makes an assumption: what if angels don’t look in the way we think? What if they don’t have white wings and bright cloths? Pelaya’s house turned into a zoo, as everybody wanted to see the old man. He didn’t trust people anymore and was very obscure.

One more curious thing about this story is that the priest thought something was wrong with that angel just because he didn’t understand Latin language – “the language of God”. The old man looked like a shabby stranger. Pelaya and her husband later earned much money when people from different corners of the country came to look at the angel.

But then after hard winter, the angel flew away. This story became a powerful example of Magic Realism, as the author skillfully combined real and imaginary worlds.

Leave a Reply