Literary Analysis – “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Literary Analysis: “In Some Stories, Characters Come Into Conflict With The Culture In Which They Live.”

In this story, the author personified old man in the form of an Angel which signifies wisdom and integrity. Literary analysis on this story indicated that the theme did not focus on the real Angel but compares the wisdom of an old man with that of an Angel. In the society, the old men are characterized with wisdom and they are often consulted for advice by the younger people (Marquez, 1955). The author attempted to emphasize the importance of the old man in the society. However, not all the people in the society are in agreement with the wisdom of the old man. As a result, the advice sort from the old man can sometime create conflicts between the younger people and the old man. Gabriel presented how the young people in the society lack logic which is exhibited by both ignorance in their actions and words.

            It is ironical to find the old stuck in the mad with large unusable wings because they are considered to have accumulated a lot of experience over years. As a result, they are expected to provide guidance and resolve issues that affects the society. For instance, the author stated that he found the old man stuck in the mad and the old man possessed wings. Furthermore, the old man was speaking an unknown dialect (Marquez, 1955). No one in the society knew where the old man was coming from and who he was. The woman confirmed not knowing the old and she suspected to be an Angel, but yet they didn’t believe to be an Angel. No one believes he could actually be a supernatural being because he is found in such a decrepit state.   Pelayo and his wife Elisenda become wealthy from charging admission fees to see this angel, who they keep in a chicken coop for several years, mistreating him for many years (Marquez, 1955).  When the chicken coop eventually falls apart, they move him into a shed that’s adjacent to their new house.  Pelayo and his wife think the old man will die but he regains his strength and one day he flies off into the air as they watch him disappear over the horizon (Goodwin, 2006). Here, Marques indicated to have taken a negative perception regarding the nature of the human being by comparing both natural and supernatural beings. Marque’s assertion exhibited the negative perspective of the human being towards a strange creature or anything that appears to be totally different and not understood by people. We all wonder if angels are truly real or if it’s just something made up and Marquez’s story shows us that when we don’t understand something or someone and are afraid of it or them, society tends not to be so kind towards the unknown or misunderstood.

According to Swanson (2014), Marquez’s though are comparable to a beacon of imagination which are detached from the entire world. This sentiments are proved to be true when the background of the author is analyzed comprehensively (Swanson, 2014). Swanson further stated that Marquez was a brilliant journalist and even won a Nobel Prize in 1982 (p. 255). However, not all the scholar agree with what Swanson stated. Some have argued that Marques is just like any other author who uses narratives to entertain the masses. For example, Goodwin said this about Marquez and another author, “they effectively use the narrative voice to convey social commentaries” (Goodwin, 2006), which gives a different outlook on the author’s vision for this story.

Goodwin went ahead and suggested that the villagers that Marques was referring to in the story represented the Colombians while the Angels represented the religion instead of church as it has been interpreted by many scholar in their literary analysis (Goodwin, 2006). This means that Marques had some underlying social and political purposes in his writing this story with an allusion technique.  It meant that his people were being oppressed by religious authorities. In other words, Marques did not only used narrative voice to convey social commentaries, but also to highlight the oppression many people in the society are subjected to in the form of religion (Rios, 1999). Even in the modern world, many people have judged based on the religion and the church they worship in. with the growing number of churches in the world, many people in the society remained confused because they are not sure about the right church that can deliver them into the heaven

Marquez’s story has several possible morals:  Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.  Patience is a virtue.  Appearances can be deceptive.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings makes you wonder if people would even recognize a miracle if they saw it in front of them.  Marquez reveals an excellent story of magic realism and mixes it with the supernatural so well that it distorts the lines between reality and the absurd (Marquez, 1955).   One definition that I found when researching for the meaning of magic realism, was Alberto Rios’ where he states, “In magical realism we find the transformation of the common and the everyday into the awesome and the unreal.” (Rios, 1999). In the end if we think about it, we are all surrounded by angels.  You may not understand your neighbor which makes you afraid to talk to them or causes you to judge them, you are at a store and keep to yourself because everyone around you are different, at work you keep to yourself because you feel beneath those that are walking around in $1,000 dollar suits.  At church, the person next to you is falling asleep and you think they are rude and shouldn’t have even come, yet you don’t know that sleepy person next to you stayed up all night taking care of their sick grandmother.  We may just be looking an angel in the face and not even realize it, so we should think about how we treat others before taking a judgmental attitude.  That person may end up actually having “Enormous Wings”.

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