A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, An Allegory By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, An Allegory By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Dehumanizing the Different
A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, an allegory by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, brings to attention the idea of the psychological process of dehumanizing. Throughout the years, certain races, homeless individuals, autistic individuals, women, homosexuals, and certain religions such as Jews and Muslims have all been examples of dehumanizing. The old man in Marquez’s story also faces this psychological process of dehumanizing. “Dehumanization is the psychological process of demonizing the enemy, making them seem less than human and hence not worthy of humane treatment. This can lead to increased violence, human rights violations, war crimes, and genocide”(Maiese). Marquez emphasizes the point that just because someone looks, acts, or thinks differently, they are no less human than anyone else is.
According to the website Beyond Intractability, “We typically dehumanize those whom we perceive as a threat to our well-being or values” (Maiese). In the story, Pelayo and Elisenda’s child is sick. Upon finding the old man in their courtyard, “they called in a neighbor woman who knew everything about life and death to see him”(Marquez). On page 144 she replied, “He’s an angel . . . he must have been coming for the child”(Marquez). This created fear for Pelayo and Elisenda that they might lose their child. As stated from a threat and attention article, “threat is often experienced as fear”(Threat). Pelayo and Elisenda felt threatened by the strange old man, that their neighbor claims to be an Angel, coming to take their sick child away(Marquez). In the last paragraph on page 144, Pelayo and Elisenda “did not have the heart to club him to death,” against the advice of their wise neighbor woman(Marquez). Pelayo even t...


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...flicts these torturous atrocities on the old man, cannot seem to understand that he is human. By the couple locking him in their chicken coop over night, they had stripped him of his freedom and therefore his rights as a human. The crowd that came to see an angel, found instead an attraction somewhat like they would find at a circus. Marquez shows these tortures of someone helpless, to open the eyes of readers at what dehumanization does.
In A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, an old man in need of help undergoes horrible torture by those that cannot see him as human. Because he cannot talk to them and cannot fight against them, he holds no status in their eyes. Marquez tries to make the reader understand that even if someone is different, whether by their ideas, physical appearance, love interests or communication abilities, they are no less human than anyone else.

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