A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Analysis

  • Category: Books, Literature,
  • Words: 734 Pages: 3
  • Published: 29 April 2021
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Disrespected and mistreated, the very old man with enormous wings caged and sold out as an attraction. However, he prevails and eventually grows new wings and flies off into the distance. Mistaken for an angel by the people and consulted by the higher priests who deemed him an imposter and not a real angel. The family who had caged the old man became wealthy and bought a large house. Once the old man had become profitless, they let him go, and he grew new wings and flew off. An Archetypal critic would explore the angel's un-angelicness and how the priest is the opposite of how a priest is perceived. In contrast, a Moral critic might point out how the people were horrible to the angel because he didn't look like how an angel's envisioned. Also, on how the priest didn't act as we would expect him to. The townspeople looked at his outward appearance and accepted him even though he was less than he should've been. 

In the very old man, the "angel" is an elderly man in poor condition, portrayed as a very un-angelic angel. Depicted as a lowly being, stuck in the mud with a mundane appearance. "He was dressed like a ragpicker. There were only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth." (Paragraph 2). Everyone in the town had thought that the very old man looked like an angel; they even asked their neighbor who was an expert on life and death. She had said that the angel was there to take their sick child. "He's an angel," she told them." This idea signifies that an angel can be tossed away and mistreated because he wasn't up to their expectations, "and even the most merciful threw stones at him, trying to get him to rise so they could see him standing." As opposed to the priest, who was uncaring and harsh towards the angel. "He reminded the people that the devil had the bad habit of making use of carnival tricks in order to confuse the unwary." (Paragraph 6) Instead of caring for the angel, as we would assume, he tells the people that the devil tries to trick people. The priest writes to his superiors asking for advice about what to do with the angel, but they never respond. Still, the people didn't listen to him and started to harass the angel. They put candles around him, making him hot, burning him, plucking his feathers, and other treacherous tortures. Through this, the author flips the angel and the priest as something we wouldn't usually know them as; the angel, presented as un-angelic, and the priest is uncaring toward the angel.

Throughout the story, the people are mean and harsh towards the angel because he didn't look like an angel. Though he still looked as human as everyone else, the angel was still horribly treated because he had wings "Then he noticed that seen close up he was much too human" (Paragraph 6). The angel didn't do anything to deserve this; he was patient, and whenever they harmed him, he was not enraged but in pain. "His only supernatural virtue seemed to be patience" (Paragraph 9). When they burned him, "Although many thought that his reaction had not been one of rage but of pain." (Paragraph 9), the author says that the priest's previous job was as a woodcutter, signifying he might not be qualified to teach Christianity to the people. He also carried a catechism, revealing that he doesn't know the principles of Catholicism. "But Father Gonzaga, before becoming a priest, had been a robust woodcutter. Standing by the wire, he reviewed his catechism." (Paragraph 5). All meaning that what someone looks like on the outside doesn't define their internal self. The priest didn't fulfill his duty of caring for the hurt angel. Instead, he waited for his superiors to decide what to do; when they didn't respond, he waited till the angel's reputation went down. "The angel's reputation when the woman who had been changed into a spider finally crushed him completely. That was how Father Gonzaga was cured forever of his insomnia." (Paragraph 11). Whenever we see someone's outside appearance, we must observe their inner appearance too. 

Through the two critics' eyes, we can see that humans have standard expectations of those we hold in higher standing. Whenever they don't meet our standards, we treat them as less than human. The angel looked horrid, therefore causing the people to mistreat him. While the priest looked good on the outside to the people, he wasn't pure at heart. However, the opposite can be true; when we see evil people and their outward appearance, we take them as they are.

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