An Essay on a very Old Man with Enormous Wings

The short story titled “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” is a strange story written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The author has used magical and mystical themes in his story to make it appealing to the audience. In my opinion, I consider the story strange because of the rare things that happened. I would say it is because of the residents’ religious believe or how they socialize with one another. The story begins with the main characters Pelayo and Elisenda, who come across an old man in their courtyard (Bloom, 2009). The old man with wings became famous and everyone in the small village thought he was an angel. As time goes, the “angel” was not famous anymore. The woman who disobeyed her parents and was turned into a spider stole the fame. One day the creature left the village after his enormous wing grew back. Therefore, this essay will entail an explanation on how good or evil co-exist in the story if the old man with enormous wings was truly an angel and how magical realism has been used. Similarly, the essay will explain the influence the author might have on the development of the story and if the international setting has an impact on the readers understanding of the story.

Something that is good will always help an individual while a bad thing is harmful. The author has portrayed the existence of good and evil in the following manner. There are moments of evil practices throughout the story. After the child to Pelayo and Elisenda recovers from illness, the parents treated the angel poorly by putting him to sea on a raft and provisions for a couple of days (three days) rather than taking his life. The poor family realized that they could get more profit from showcasing the old man with wings. Therefore, they decided to imprison him outside in a chicken coop (Bloom, 2009). The neighbors made fun of the supernatural creature by tossing him things to eat like a circus animal and burn him with a branding iron.

Although callousness and exploitation surround the story, moments of good practices are also portrayed. The old man eventually became part of the family’s household. Pelayo’s and Elisenda’s lives were transformed by the old man’s extreme patients with the villagers. In this story, we can view the old man’s refusal to leave as an act of kindness to help improve the lives of the poor family (SparkNotes Editors, 2007). In the end, the good won since the old man brought prosperity to the lives of Pelayo and Elisenda. From the beginning of the story, the family lives in a state of poverty as crabs invade their home. Their situation was made worse by the sickness of their child. The proceeds from pilgrims bring the family a new business, a new home, and more money. Elisenda refers to her new place as a “hell full of angels” once they allowed the old man inside the new home.

The old man with wings was not truly an angel. He is too human and does not possess the dignity that people anticipate from angels. The old man has human characteristics. According to the author, the old man had an unbearable smell of the outdoors, the wings are riddled with parasites, and the feathers have been destroyed by the wind (Garcia, 2004). Father Gonzaga view the old man as an imposter since he cannot understand Latin. It was difficult for the old man to understand the language of God when greeted by Father Gonzaga (Garcia, 2004).

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is among the most prominent authors of magical realism. Similarly, he has fathered the genre of magical realism in this story by portraying the magical and mystical themes. In the beginning, of this story, Garcia (2004) provided a unique and real description of the relentless rain, “The world has been sad since Tuesday.” Also, the author has combined details of Pelayo and Elisenda’s life with magic such as an old man with wings and a spider woman to create a fairy tale in a realistic manner. Besides, the reality of the situation is portrayed by the angel since it is an astounding manifestation. Moreover, the neighbor lady is also shocked: “He is an angel,” the lady told them (Garcia, 2004). She went ahead and said that “He must be coming for the child, but the poor fellow is so old that the rain knocked him down” (Garcia, 2004). Gabriel Marquez has used the angel as a catalyst for the family’s recovery from poverty. Before the angel came, the family was simple, poor with a dying son. Once the angle fell to the earth due to the violent storms, the child recovers from illness and the couples use the angel for their financial gains. In this context, the author has shown true human nature.

The origin of the author has had a greater influence on the development of this story. Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca, Colombia. The famous Colombian novelist is known for writing strange stories. His ideas about this story are due to rare things frequently happen in the small villages of Latin America. They usually happen more than any other parts of the world. Therefore, the author has a vivid and concrete understanding of such scenarios, and that is why he tries to portray it in a magical and mystical ways. The international setting influences the reader’s potential understanding of the story. The author’s description of the weather gives the reader clues as to when and where the scene took place. This story took place during a rainy season accompanied by a violent storm. The setting of this story can create mood or atmosphere. When Pelayo and Elisenda found out about the old man with wings, the atmosphere created was creepy and nervous. Therefore, the description of such an atmosphere pushes the reader to wonder what would happen next and read more to understand.

In conclusion, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” is a story that depicts magical realism. The author has tried to explain how good and evil co-exist in the story. The presence of the angel in the story transformed the lives of the couple, and they benefited from a new home, new business, and more money. The evil practice is shown by the way the villagers treat the old man like a circus animal. Also, the author explains the perception of the Father Gonzaga towards the old man vividly. According to Father Gonzaga, the old man is an imposter with human characteristics. Gabriel Marquez has fathered magical realism whereby the angel fell to the earth due to a violent rainstorm. The couples were shocked to see the angel and never questioned about its existence. The story written by Gabriel Marquez is strange due to the rare things that happen in the small village of Latin America.



Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2009). Gabriel García Márquez. Infobase Publishing.

Garcia, M. G. (2004). A very old man with enormous wings. Penguin Books, Limited.

SparkNotes Editors. (2007). SparkNote on A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from



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