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Depiction of Human Reaction to The Unknown in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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“A very old man with enormous wings” is a short story by the Colombian writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is a teaching story about social values and human reaction to the unknown. The story takes place in a fishing village, humble, where in the courtyard of Pelayo’s house, (one of the main figures of the story), appears an old man with very large wings. Pelayo does not know what to do with it and called his wife Elisenda. The first thing he does is look for answers for the thinks beyond his understanding, and with Elisenda go to see a woman neighbor who they believe knew about all the good and bad things in life. Seeing the old man, she said that it was an angel because he has wings. The first thing that the characters do is to judge by appearances, and when they see a man dressed in rags, they give him a sort of phenomenon tag, because an angel would not dress like that. They are also in the care of a newborn who convalesces sick, and relate the old man with a death angel who came in search of the child, that was trapped in the mud and rain of that day, an environment described by the author all over the story.

The uncertainty and ignorance are not delaying appearing, and in Pelayo’s house a series of helpless people came in search of miracles. When Pelayo and his wife saw this, they decide to take advantage, and they begin to charge people to see the angel. This only shows human opportunism, and lack of compassion for that man by the protagonists, his wife and the others. Faith is used in search of answers beyond themselves by the pilgrims as an answer of their unfortune. As the days goes by, the angel maintains a passive attitude, and the expected miracles were not received. People stopped believing in him, and the interest in that creature disappeared.

Meanwhile, Pelayo and Elisenda improve their lives and the child wellness, that in some way is related to the angel and the climate in the town. They adapt themselves to the presence of the angel and show a little compassion. When the angel regains the well-being of its wings and some strength goes away and Elisenda shows relief that it has come out of their lives. It is something hypocritical how humans being expects things to fall by their weight, and not accept a fact with its good and bad sides.

Does the old man, was it really a death demon in search of the child or a cherub of life? I think he was just a passive being, oblivious to the world around him, a world full of greed and ignorance. He was a being who only wanted to live. “The very old man with enormous wings,” is a metaphoric example, used by the author to describe how we react to the unknown. He uses old age as a synonym for the end of life. Also, he used a new born child as a synonym of beginning, and the reactions of the world surround them as human’s fears. It is a fable about how men reject appearances without taking the trouble to see beyond what is obvious. It is a sample of some of the worst human values that are imposed by the society, and how we should be aware of them.

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Depiction Of Human Reaction To The Unknown In “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” By Gabriel Garcia Marquez. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from
“Depiction Of Human Reaction To The Unknown In “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” By Gabriel Garcia Marquez.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
Depiction Of Human Reaction To The Unknown In “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” By Gabriel Garcia Marquez. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 Oct. 2021].
Depiction Of Human Reaction To The Unknown In “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” By Gabriel Garcia Marquez [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Sept 01 [cited 2021 Oct 19]. Available from:
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