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The roots behind Magical Realism are found in many cultures, but the literature is mainly attributed to South American writers, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The dichotomy of living in a country that your blood ancestors more or less discovered, whose rituals are still practiced to a small degree, while living under laws and religions that were placed upon those same ancestors by colonial invaders has fed and nourished the ability for these South American authors to create a style of literature that holds up the ancient and current as separates while combining them to show intrinsic human ideals. In doing this the author can interest the reader by incorporating fantastic images that also stand as symbols to explain and teach. Marquez demonstrates this in his story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” A poor, backwater villager discovers a ragged old man in his garden who turns out to be an angel, but since this angel is not the glowing embodiment of glory of which the man and villagers have been informed, they are disinterested and unimpressed with the holy being. By juxtaposing the historic, more survival-based civilization of the villagers, and the angel, a supernatural force that is unnecessary and burdensome to their lives, we are given a perfect example of the theme of Magical Realism. The people of the village have worshiped angels, while farming and struggling with life, but when cut comes to scratch the only use the protagonist and his family have for the angel is as a side-show, money making venture. They fail to realize the greatness of being in the presence of an angel because it lacks the grandeur they were taught to expect. In this way Marquez explores religious ideas while at the same time exploring the indigenous people of South America and comes out with a story that can be grasped by a varied and diverse audience.
This brings us to the term Magical Realism itself. According to Evelyn C. Leeper of the geocities page www.
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Leeper, Evelyn C., www.geocities.com/Athens/4824/magreal.htm, 2004.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia, English 214 Reader, 2004.