Characteristics of Magical Realism in Gabriel Garcia Marqez's A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
The controversy surrounding Magical Realism makes the classification of what is and what is not Magical Realism very difficult. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a famous Latin American author, has written many pieces of what is generally conceived to be Magical Realism. Marqez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" fulfills every characteristic of Magical Realism..
"A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" includes many aspects, which may be described as magical. In the story, an old man with a very poor set of wings is found and kept as a pet for several years. These wings were described by the doctor in the story as "...so natural on that completely human organism that he couldn't understand why other men didn't have them, too" (528). The fact that the old man had wings in the first place seems very acceptable to the characters, and this nonchalance is conveyed to the reader. Marquez also adds to the story the tale of the lady spider. The lady spider has the body of a tarantula and the head of a young girl. She was transformed to this state after sneaking out of her parents home to attend a dance. Witches, wizards, and spells are not used to transform her, simply lightning. The lady spider takes away the old man's mobs of spectators leaving him more ordinary in that he is still around even after his fifteen minutes of fame are over.
Another example of magic is the overabundance of crabs. An infestation one can accept easily enough. However, an infestation of crabs so severe the stench alone makes the infant very ill is much more nonrealistic. The use of numbers also seems magical in a sense. The story takes place on the third day of rain, not simply while it was raining outside. Father Gonzaga arrives before seven o'clock in the morning, not just early. The language used by Magical Realists such as Marqez contains a romantic quality. "The world was sad since Tuesday" (525) describes the mood of the people as not only sad, but extraordinarily sad and for a space of time as well.
The magical elements are treated as though they are somewhat acceptable. The characters react to the old man with wings as one reacts to an out of ordinary person. Once the novelty has passed, the person becomes ordinary.
Though elements of magic exist in the story, a realistic environment surrounds the actions. The family that houses the angel makes the realistic decision of selling admission to see the angel in order to better their financial standing. They also tire of the angel eventually, treating him as though he were a dog. Only when he becomes "ill" does the family begin to worry about him.
The mobs that abandon the old man are very fickle. Just as fans are in reality, they desert one fad for another. The lady spider is a new fad, and the old man suddenly seems ordinary in comparison to her.
The use of details causes the reader to render close...