Literary Analysis of “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” “When Pelayo and Elisend first find the fallen man, they regard him as human, he is “dressed like a ragpicker”” (McFarland). Gabriel Garcia Marquez short story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is a fabulous story about an angel in “pitiful condition of a drenched great-grandfather” with “Huge buzzard wings” (Marquez 294). Marquez uses magical realism to express the literary elements of the old man, in third person point of view, and with several interpretations.
In the short story, Marquez shows two major elements of magic realism. The two elements were the old man and, the girl who has been turned into a spider. The people in the story treat the old man as an oddity. He was not treated like an angel instead he was treated more like a freak of nature. The old man appears to be nothing more than a frail human with wings, and so his status as an angel is endlessly debated. “What surprised him the 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” (Marquez 298). Father Gonzaga thinks that he cannot be an angel because he lacks dignity and splendor. “Father Gonzaga went into the chicken coop and said good morning to him in Latin. The parish priest had his first suspicion of an imposter when he saw that he did not understand the language of god” (Marquez 295). Of course this begs the question of whether the angel lacks dignity, or whether he just lacks dignity because of the way he is treated, being imprisoned in a chicken coop.
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Perhaps it is the people who lack dignity, not the old man. The old man's other supernatural characteristic is his incredible patience in the face of his treatment which does not make much of an impression on the majority of the people, who are happy to exploit him until bored with him. The magic realism for Spider-Girl is a clear contrast with the Old Man; whereas, he is difficult to interpret because he is not trying to please the crowd. The Spider-Girl delights the people with the clarity of her story. while still practically a child she had sneaked out of her parents’ house to go to a dance, and while she was coming back through the woodsafter having danced all night without permission, a fearful thunderclap rent through the sky in two and through the crack came the lightning bolt of brimstone that changed her into a spider” (Marquez 297). “When a new spectacle arrives, the woman who has been changed into a spider for disobeying her parents, the community shifts their attention to her. A typical carnival hoax or sideshow “freak”” (McFarland).
Unlike the Angel, the people do not debate her status as a spider; it is taken for granted. The story is written in third person point of view, in the eyes in Pelayo, in order to show the isolation of the old man is feeling. As the story begins and as Pelayo finds the old man, he does not understand who or what the old man is, until he hears the old man’s “sailor’s voice”. “This explanation is merely arbitrary, however, because basic logic rejects the interpretation and makes Pelayo’s explanation merely humorous” (Slomski).
The story makes it difficult to understand how the old man is feeling due to the point of view it is written. If the story is switched to the point of view of the old man, it would be easier to understand the feelings and alienation the old man is being faced. “They would drive him out of the bedroom with a broom and a moment later finds him in the kitchen” (Marquez 298). This quote displays the alienation the old man felt through Pelayo’s eyes. “The second interpretation is made by a neighbor woman who is thought to know “everything about life and death. The humor of her interpretation arises in the certainty with which she pronounces that the old man is an angel” (Slomski). Marquez use of magical realism and literary elements, in a third person point of view, proved many interpretations. “Thus, the Magical Realism of Garcia Marquez’s style — a blurring of the division between the real and the fantastic — is used to underscore the notion (indeed, the seeming contradiction) that the irrational is a natural part of life” (Slomski). By analyzing, the literary elements of third person/omniscient point of view, imagery and characterization are what alienate the fabulous characters.
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