A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings PDF - Overview
A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings is a short story by Colombian writer and author Gabriel García Márquez. The tale was written in 1968 and published in the May–June 1968 issue of the journal Casa de las Américas. The work was published in English in the New American Review 13 in 1971. It appeared in the 1972 book Leaf Storm and Other Stories.
The short story involves the eponymous character who appears in a family’s backyard on a stormy night. What follows are the reactions of the family, a town, and outside visitors. This story falls within the genre of magic realism.
A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings
Plot Summary of a very old man with Enormous Wings
The story begins after three days of rain. Crabs are infesting Pelayo and Elisenda’s house and causing a horrible stench, which is believed to be making their baby sick. When Pelayo comes back from throwing the crabs into the sea, he sees a very old man with wings laying face down in mud in his courtyard. Startled, Pelayo goes to get his wife and they examine the man.
He is dressed in raggedy clothing and is very dirty. After staring at him for so long, Pelayo and Elisenda are able to overcome their initial shock of seeing the man with wings. They try to speak to him but the man speaks in an incomprehensible dialect. They decide he is a castaway from a shipwreck; however, a neighbor informs them that the man is an angel.
The following day, the entire town knows about the man with wings who is said to be an angel. Pelayo decides to chain up the man and keep him in the chicken coop. A day later, when the rain stops, the baby is feeling better and is able to eat. Pelayo and Elisenda want to send the old man out to sea with food and water for three days and let nature take care of him.
However, when they go out to their courtyard, they see a mass of people gathered around the chicken coop to see the angel; they are harassing him by treating him like a circus animal instead of a person. The priest, Father Gonzaga, comes by the house because he is surprised by the news of the angel. At this time, onlookers are making hypotheses about what should happen to the angel, saying things like he should be the leader of the world,” or “he should be a military leader in order to win all wars.
However, Father Gonzaga decides to determine whether the man is an angel or not by speaking to him in Latin. Since the man with wings did not recognize Latin and looked too human, the priest decides the man could not be an angel. Father Gonzaga then warns the onlookers that the man is not an angel. However, the people do not care, and word spreads that the old man with wings is an angel.
People began coming from all over to Pelayo and Elisenda’s house to see the angel. It reaches a point that they have to build a fence and charge people admission. However, the old man wants nothing to do with his act. His audiences attempt to get him to react, at one point prodding him with hot iron pokers. The angel responds in anger, flapping his wings and yelling in his strange language.
Later, a new carnival arrives in town bringing a woman who has metamorphosed into a spider. The townspeople lose interest in the angel. However, Pelayo and Elisenda are able to build a mansion with the fortune they have gained by charging admission. The child grows older and is told not to go into the chicken coop. Yet the child does, and later the child and the old man have chicken pox at the same time.
Once the child is of school age, the chicken coop is broken down and the man begins to appear in Pelayo and Elisenda’s house. He then moves into the shed and becomes very ill. Yet, he survives the winter and becomes stronger. One fateful day, Elisenda is making lunch and looks out the window to see the old man trying to fly. His first attempts are clumsy, but eventually he is able to gain altitude and fly away from Pelayo and Elisenda’s house. Elisenda is relieved “for herself and for him”, upon seeing him go.
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