19 Mar 2022


“A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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“A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is an interesting short, interesting magical realism story. The story is set in a small coastal village and unfolds after a three-day storm. While cleaning their house after the storm Pelayo and Elisenda discover a strange language speaking winged old man in their courtyard. Their discovery goes on to become the fascination of the village as the old man becomes famous and attracts a crowd to their courtyard who come to him with all manner of notions considering him to be an angel. But the fame is short-lived as another freak, spider women come to town, becoming the new center of fascination. Marquez use the events that occur around these extraordinary creatures reveal the nature and characteristics of humans. 

One prominent characteristic of humans evident in this story is selfishness and greed. They are opportunistic and will take any opportunity they get to satisfy their greed or selfish needs. No characters demonstrate this better than wife and husband, Elisenda and Pelayo. When people flock to their courtyard to see the fallen angel, they see an opportunity to make money, and they decide to charge an admission fee for all those interested in seeing the angel. They know people will come from many distant destinations to witness an angel and thus take full advantage of the opportunity while it lasts. They are concerned about their needs and do not care about the angel. Despite profiting for his presence, they keep him as their captive in miserable conditions. The couple’s selfishness is just the ice tip of human selfishness. Humans have little regard over what happens to their colleagues. Through their opportunistic exploitation, the couple successful raises enough money to improve the house by making renovations such as raising it up to protect it from crabs and constructing a perimeter fence. Similarly, some of the spectators that come to see the angel come with selfish expectations expecting the angel to perform miracles such as healing them 

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Alongside the selfish nature of humans is their inherently cruel nature. The people are cruel to the angel because he is unable to answer their questions. They mock and torment him. First, the couple that found him in their courtyard imprisons him forcing him to stay among chicken. He has to stay in miserable conditions as spectators flock to the poultry coup to see him. They spectators throw all manner of food at the angel treating him like a circus animal. They expect the angel to heal them and try to worship him, but when they realize that he has no magical abilities, they become so mean to him. They even burn him using a hot branding iron meant for branding steers. His hosts are also very mean. Despite having profited from his presence the still lock him outside in the courtyard and mistreat him after the crowds move on. Humans in the story general seem to draw pleasure from those suffering any form of misery. When the woman who was turned into a spider to disobeying her parent if brought to town, they again flock to see her and hear her story. They people seem to find pleasure and amusement in the misery of the angel and the spider woman, yet the two helpless creatures deserve pity.

In a nutshell, Marquez (n.d.) seems to mock the human nature of not to caring about the misery of others and seeking to satisfy their selfish needs, even at the expense of their colleagues. The way the crowds marvel at the angel and the Spiderwoman is an indication that humans are only curious to wonder at new fascinations and move on to the next fascination without giving a thought to what they do to their sources of attraction.


Marquez, G. C. (n.d.). A very Old Man With Enormous Wings: A tale for children . Retrieved from http://www.jonescollegeprep.org/ourpages/auto/2014/1/29/42934518/A_Very_Old_Man_With_Enormous_Wings_pdf.pdf

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


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