Jackie Thornton Ms. Barbara Purbaugh English 200, Section 02 08 November 2012 A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” excerpts of greed, jealousy, indifference, and humanity are put together in this story. It is uncommon that there is no true “main character” in this story. The author tries to tell the reader something about the way that we react to some of life’s miracles. In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes on how we as humans have a cruel reaction to people who are different from us.
But, we also look at human compassion to other people. We can be cruel and understanding at the same time. In the story, Pelayo and Elisenda have a child that is very sick. They believe that the old man with enormous wings is an angel who has come to take their sick child to heaven. The old man does not quite look like what one would consider an angel.
The man seems human enough, being surrounded by disease and filth constantly. When the doctor examines him, he is amazed that such an unhealthy man is still alive and is shocked by how natural the old man’s wings seem to be.
His one different quality, aside from his wings, seems to be his patience, and he speaks in a dialect that nobody understands. Since nobody understood what exactly he was saying, they became ignorant to him. He did not have a clear moral message and when that happens people tend to judge. People have a cruel reaction to those who are different than us, not simply by looks, but just by one’s demeanor. Human compassion is something that we all seem to have. No matter what happens, we all can relate to people through certain things and experiences.
Everybody around Pelayo and Elisenda think that the angel really is not an angel. They both decide to keep him in the chicken coop for him to stay. Pelayo’s decision to shelter the old man and take some responsibility for him, however, suggests that he isn’t as cold or heartless as he might seem. Nobody really understood the old man with enormous wings story of why he was there, but Pelayo felt that he could not just leave this man out to die. One day, the old man stretches his wings and takes off.
Pelayo’s wife watches him disappear over the horizon. The old man becomes so ordinary in her eyes that it isn’t until he finally flies away that she seems to see him for the wonder that he is. Elisenda watches him fly away, and she becomes sad because she is finally realizing that something extraordinary has left her life forever. She realizes she did not cherish the gift that she once had. It seems like he stayed with the family as an act of compassion to change their lives.
We are compassionate to people who we feel do not have the easiest time with things. It is inevitable that we do not realize just what we have until it’s gone. We as humans have the capacity to be cruel and understanding at the same time. “After Elisenda and Pelayo’s child recovers from his illness, for example, the parents decide to put the old man to sea on a raft with provisions for three days rather than just killing him, a concession to the old man’s difficult situation but hardly a kind act” (Quinn).
Once they see that they can get money from showing him off, people start throwing stones at him and staring at him, they even burn him with a branding iron. Though everybody is being rude to him, there are few moments of compassion, which make them so significant. He was taken into their house not with open arms, but eventually he did become a huge part of both Pelayo and Elisenda’s life. When the old man finally flies into the sunset, Elisenda feels kind of bad and regretful.
The old man was very patient with everybody, especially the townspeople who were so mean to him. The old man not wanting to leave could be thought of as an act of compassion to help the couple’s child get better. In the bible it says “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ” In conclusion, people have a cruel reaction to those that are different than us or do not have a clear moral message, like the man with enormous wings.
We as humans can also be compassionate to people different than us as well. We have the capability to be cruel and understanding at the same time. A Very Old Man with Enormous wings taught me to never judge a book by its cover and to always hear a story just before judging it. Works Cited Marquez, Gabriel G. A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. Boston: Thomas Wadsworth, 2007. Print. Quinn, David. “‘Detective Plotting’ in Garcia Marquez’ A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. ” Eureka Studies in Teaching Short Fiction (ESTSF) 2001 Fall; 2 (1): 50-60.
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