Alejandra Fuentes

Fuentes 5


Prof.Francis Rawslyn


08June 2014


García is a renowned author of short stories. One of his literal works, ‘AVery Old Man with Enormous Wings’, will form part of the literalreview in the discussion. The short story has a built-up plot fromits beginning with the medieval age setting. Authors of literal textspublish them with different aims. The books educate masses,entertain, build up language, as well as act as an avenue to air somesocial issues (Zwaan, Rolf, Magliano, and Graesser 386). It is ashort story of a fallen angel who is an old man with tattered wings.The people mock him and do not believe who he is, however, in theend, the angel recuperates and flies back to heaven The short storyrevolves around six characters, the old man, Pelayo, Elisenda, FatherGonzaga, the neighbor woman, and the spider woman. These charactersbuild up the plot of the story whilst clearly portraying the themesof the story. The author, García , aims to highlight the main themeas people’s unwilling reaction to unnatural things alongsideblessings in disguise and society’s collective thinking.

People’sUnwilling Reaction to Unnatural Events

Theauthor of the book uses literal power in the story to highlight thesocial human reaction to unnatural occurrences. Supernaturalincidences in the current age rarely occur and come on uncertaintimes. Due to their nature, human beings believe that theiroccurrence is impossible. The author uses the case of the old manwith enormous wings to illustrate such a scenario. In the story, theauthor uses some symbolic items to build up the theme. Some of theseitems include the age of the man, physical appearance, the mud, andthe conditions of his wings. According to Márquez (13), “His hugewings, dirty and half-plucked, were forever entangled in the mud.”The description of the old man is quite contrary to the common ideathat people have of angels. Human beings perceive angels to be clean,strong, of a definite young age, and ever healthy. The author uses acontradicting description to show the readers how hard it is forhuman beings to believe unnatural events.

Garcíauses the Father Gonzaga purposefully to point out the same, only thatin this case, he uses a man of Faith. The author builds up the themedisplaying that, not only ordinary people do not believe in unnaturalevents as angels, but also religious people do not. Father Gonzagadisputes the people’s claims by saying that the old man cannotspeak Greek (Márquez 16). He made a hasty decision to silence thesituation. Similarly, in the current age, people tend to reacthastily to such occasions while others just ignore. The author showshow some people fail to understand such times even when the truth isstaring at them. The couple sees the change in their son’ssituation since the arrival of the old man yet they have some doubts.The fact that individuals paid to see the old man proves the humannature of disbelief.

Blessingsin Disguise

Garcíauses his shorts story as a platform to air the theme of blessings indisguise. His story is reflective to the bible verse in Hebrew 13:2,“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some haveentertained angels unawares.” In day-to-day life, certain eventshappen to people, which may seem peculiar, yet they are blessings. Agood real life example is an individual losing his or her job only tofind employment in a better paying job with better workingconditions. To other people the situation may be a misfortune atfirst since the individual is uncertain of his or her employmentstatus after losing their job. However, a better job opportunitycomes.

Similarly,in the story, the couple does not realize the blessings that the oldman bestows upon them. Upon finding the old man, their son heals andbegins, growing into a young man and Father Gonzaga cured of insomnia(Márquez 17). In addition, the couple gains financial benefit bycharging the masses, who are eager to see the said angel. Thesefinancial gains improve the couple’s lives, and they move into abigger and safer house that, according to them, would protect themfrom angels. According to Márquez (18), despite all the blessings,the couple still kept the old man in the chicken coop. Here, peoplewould pelt the old man with stones, gawk at him and to an extent,burn him with a branding iron. These scenes show how human beings areignorant to blessings in disguise.

Society’sCollective Thinking

Theauthor finally highlights the third theme, society with a collectivethinking. In thecurrent society, people tend to think and act inmasses. A real life example is in riots and boycotts. In suchsituations, people follow the crowd, yet not all have the intention.In the story, the author uses the people’s disbelief despite seeingthe old man’s wings. Once Father Gonzaga dismisses the claims,people believe him and follow suit. According to Kutzinski and Vera(140), the people dispute the fact that the old man is an angel, yetno one has ever set eyes on human beings with wings. On anotherscene, another freak show attraction arrives in the village. A womancursed by her parents for disobedience turns into a giant tarantulawith a human head. Once it becomes the main attraction in town,people immediately shift their attention since it was moreentertaining that the old man with enormous wings (Márquez 16). Theauthor uses the illustration to show how mass thinking easilyoverrides individual assessment of situations (Kirszner, Laurie, andMandell 86).

Garcíauses his short story to highlight these social natures. Literal textshave a goal of teaching the society and correcting social norms ascollective thinking, human disbelief of unnatural events, and howblessings befall people in disguise. The story, An Old Man withEnormous Wings, is one of many literal works that are both intriguingand resourceful. From a personal perspective, the author’s work isa good read.


Bible,Holy. &quotKing James Version.&quot Texas: National PublishingCompany(2000).

Kirszner,Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell. Literature: reading, reacting,writing. Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1997.

Kutzinski,Vera M. &quotThe Logic of Wings: Gabriel García Márquez andAfro-American Literature.&quot Latin American Literary Review(1985): 133-146.

Márquez,García. &quotA Very Old Man with Enorm0us~ Wings.&quot (1988).

Zwaan,Rolf A., Joseph P. Magliano, and Arthur C. Graesser. &quotDimensionsof situation model construction in narrative comprehension.&quotJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition21.2 (1995): 386.