Garcia-Marquez's A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

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Garcia-Marquez's “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”

Symbolism is often used to subtlely enhance a story’s meaning by adding emphasis and details to the story line. However, Garcia-Marquez, in “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”, cloaks his tale for children in a dreamlike quality conveyed purely through symbolism. Clues to his intended meaning can be drawn from the old winged man whom the story revolves around, from the metamorphous of the family who take him in, and from outsiders’ reaction to this phenomenon.

The old winged man symbolizes those that are different and perhaps alien. He also represents those who are unable to contribute in any traditional form. The story opens during a four day storm as Pelayo and his wife Elisenda are removing the crabs washed in by the storm and throwing them into the sea when they discover the old man with wings embedded in the earth of their courtyard. They are unsure of what to make of him. He appears to be very old and harmless, but taking no chances they secure him in the chicken coop. The old winged man shows no concern for the visitors who upon hearing news of his existence flock to see this freakish show. In fact, the old man is characterized throughout the story by his indifference toward the people and events that occur. When Father Gonzaga arrives to pass judgement on whether the old man is an angel, he finds him “lying in a corner drying his open wings among the fruit peels and breakfast leftovers...thrown him”(442). W...

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