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A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

1463 words - 6 pages

God performs his divine acts in many ways. Jesus could perform miracles of healing and create food from nothing. These are the more conventional ways we see divine intervention at work. Almighty God, however, does not prefer these standard methods. Instead, he prefers to act in ways we humans can only begin to understand. This is very much true for the short story “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Within the story, a winged man falls from the sky with no meaning or purpose. The man is shrouded in mystery. Nameless and unable to communicate with the native villagers, he lives among them. His intentions are never truly known to either the reader or to the villagers. However, the biblical parallels throughout the story help us unravel the mysteries behind this strange old man. By analyzing the significance of these allegories, we can better understand the old man’s purpose while, at the same time, learning more about hidden moral teachings and criticisms in the story.
When they first find the old man, the villagers claim that “he’s an angel” (Marquez 1). There is no denying the man’s divinity but he seems to represents much more than your average angel. In fact, the old man doesn’t resemble the typical image of an angel at all. Rather than being a young and pure angel, he is “much too human” with his “unbearable smell”. His angelic wings are even “strewn with parasites” with mistreated feathers (2). This contrasting imagery, however, doesn’t completely undermine the old man’s divinity; rather it draws attention to his lackluster appearance. The disappointments we feel towards the old man along with his particular characteristics make him remarkably similar to the one of bible’s tragic heroes; he is the embodiment of Jesus Christ. The description of the man’s decent from the heavens provides many references to this fact. It was “on the third day of rain” that the Pelayo family found “a very old man, lying face down in the mud…impeded by his enormous wings” (1). By stating in the first line that it had rained for three days, the significance of the rain is exemplified. Being a symbol of rejuvenation and rebirth, the old man can be seen as being reborn on this day. This imagery is further reinforced by the fact that Jesus also was reborn from the dead after three days. Being found in mud also correlates to how Jesus was born among commoners. Many people come to witness the flesh and blood angel. However, the “consolation miracles” performed by the angel were said to show his “certain mental disorder” (4). This again parallels the way God performs strange works. Like Christ, the old man’s apparent disillusion discredited him. All these similarities to Christ give the old man a particular significance.
When we consider the old man as a Christ figure, all his actions seem to hold deeper meaning. Although they cage up the man, the Pelayo family were the first to believe in the man’s divinity. Throughout his stay, Pelayo...

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