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A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel Márquez: The Role of Understanding in People’s Views

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The short story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Márquez which is about a mysterious decaying angel who falls to earth and is kept in a backyard chicken coop by a family who is annoyed by his presence and treated poorly, while another character in the story was a young girl who turned into a spider being punished by God but was fascinated by the villagers. The author’s purpose is to show readers how humanity will show their views on an individual who appeared to come from a supernatural cause and to prove that no matter what your appearance may be as long as a person comes to an understanding about your condition people will treat you differently.

In the beginning of the story Pelayo finds an old man who appears to resembles an angle appears to be lost. Elisenda, Pelayo’s wife, thinks the feeble old man could indeed be the angel who would come to their child that had passed away. Despite being encouraged by neighbors to get rid of the old man, instead Pelayo and the wife kept the odd human in their chicken coop. A priest tells the people that the man is not an angel and yet the villagers show up to see him, asking him to heal their ailments and other things. Elisenda the wife decides to charge a fee for anyone to visit the old man, despite all the man does not pay attention to them. The people throw things at the man while others pluck his feathers. “The only time they succeeded in arousing him was when they burned his side with an iron for branding steers, for he had been motionless for so many hours that they thought he was dead.” Based on this the townspeople do not care about is peace and only came to see him put on a show and will do everything they can see him in action, therefore leaving the old man in discomfort and suffering without any villagers giving him no thoughts to explain himself nor ask him.

However, the spider women has a understandable tale to tell of family tragedy of her disobeying authorities and being punished, and because the townspeople recognize themselves in her more than in the angel, she becomes by far the more popular attraction in town. Even though she is physically less humanoid than the angel, her virtuous story is easily digestible. Being discussed “A spectacle like that, full of so much human truth and with such a fearful lesson, was bound to defeat without even trying that of a haughty angel who scarcely deigned to look at mortals.” This shows that the town folks prefer what is familiar but externally exotic to what is frankly otherworldly and mysterious like the angel. The by Spider woman is easy to understand because she is straightforward , and she is a display to many people since she is the top attraction of the traveling carnival show which is why people pay attention to and the fee to see her is even less than the “old man with the enormous wings.”

In conclusion, the old man with the enormous large wings never had a chance to be questioned by the villagers and was treated unfairly by plucking his feathers and branding him and only used him for their own benefits which resulted in him suffering. As for the spider women she was accepted by the villagers due their gruesome curiosity as well as a desire to hear her sad tale first hand cause the villagers more treated her lightly than the old man. Therefore proving the author’s purpose to show that people views are changed by their understanding.

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A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel Márquez: the Role of Understanding in People’s Views. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from
“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel Márquez: the Role of Understanding in People’s Views.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
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