Essay on Laura Restrepo’s The Angel of Galilea

Essay on Laura Restrepo’s The Angel of Galilea

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In Laura Restrepo’s The Angel of Galilea, the character of the angel is never incontrovertibly an angel, and he alters between the divine world and the human world until he does not belong to either. He is idolized by the people of Galilea and treated as a deity, yet he also suffers from the severe human illnesses of autism, epilepsy and mental retardation. These human disorders are disregarded or viewed as testimony to his divinity by his worshipers in Galilea, and the angel lacks someone to recognize and cure his ailments. The people of Galilea use the angel as a source of hope and fame, and they need him to procreate so that his lineage will continue because they never want to be without their god. When Mona falls in love with the angel, she also falls into the responsibility of treating the angel for his disorders, and the responsibility of insuring an angelic heir for the district of Galilea. Although Mona truly loves the angel, under the weight of his love she becomes responsible for not only his divine needs and the needs of the people of Galilea, but his human needs and afflictions as well.
Through her initial relationship with the angel, Mona gains the designated role of procreating with the angel to produce an angelic heir and continue to save the people of Galilea. As soon as she enters Galilea, “the councilwomen elect [her]” (82) as the chosen vehicle of reproduction. To insure the divine lineage and to further attach the angel to the earth, the councilwomen use Mona as his bride and forcibly encourage their copulation. After they have sex, the future of an angelic presence in Galilea and the hope of the poor people depend upon Mona and her fertilization. When the angel leaves Galilea to travel afar, the hope of the...

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... flees Galilea to hide in the mountains she chooses not to follow him, and remains behind free of his love and his needs.
Although at first the angel appears both physically and spiritually weightless, Mona’s experience with him is one of weight and burden. He seems to consist of “ethereal matter,” (117) and initially it appears as if he would give himself wholly to help and bless Galilea, without desiderata or human assistance. Yet after his true character is revealed, Mona discovers he has distinct divine and human needs which, as his lover, she must supply. These needs are manifested in his physical weight, for although he appears weightless, and angelic, he in reality “weigh[s] more than a pile of rocks.” (117) It is clear through his heavy, physical weight that he has very basic human needs and is not the seraphic being the people of Galilea believe him to be.

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