Gabriel García Márquez’s, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is a short story about a man named Pelayo and his wife Elisenda who profit off of an old man with enormous wings that Pelayo finds in his backyard. Throughout the story, Pelayo and his wife allow visitors to come and see the old man who resides in their house. They ask the wise neighbor woman for advice, and even Father Gonzaga comes to see who this old man with enormous wings is.
Márquez’s describes the old man in the following way, “There were only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth, and his pitiful condition of a drenched great- grandfather took away and sense of grandeur he might have had”. I could visualize how the old man looked and still feel sad for him because he has human features. However, Pelayo and the rest of the community would not feel the same way, for they would treat him like a circus animal instead of a human being.
The old man with enormous wings is part of Márquez’s magical realism genre which captures a sense of living in a different world. Magical realism expresses a real world view while also adding magical elements. For example, there is a spider woman in the story who provides life lessons.
I really liked how Márquez’s style creates curiosity in the reader since he does not give away who the man with the enormous wings is anywhere in the short story.I found myself thinking about who the old man was and why he is laying face flat on the mud. This also provides suspense to the story by allowing the reader to only know the old man through the details that are provided.
The voice of the characters is portrayed through the narrator. The narrator tells the reader that people judged the old man by just simply looking at his wings, which made him different (not human). The narrator states that after the old man spoke to them in a different language people judge him as being an outsider. The way in which the narrator gives the readers insight to what he or she thinks in regards to the character’s perspectives towards the old man is fascinating. I really liked how the narrator only gives you the perspective of the protagonist Pelayo and his wive but never places the reader in the mind of the old man.
What I also found interesting is how everyone seeks the old man for answers but no one tries to help him. Márquez makes a point that humans always think about how they can benefit from something instead of how they can help others without earning anything in return. It also shows how people will dismiss someone if they are different or do not look completely human.
Overall, Márquez’s short story is really enjoyable because it allows a reader to explore what humans are capable of doing if they encounter something out of the ordinary like a supernatural old man with enormous wings. I really recommend reading this short story for its magical realism, imagery, voice, and lessons. To learn more about Márquez’s life, check out his biography and interview.