Assessment of the Depiction of an Angel in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Book, A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings


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A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

In the short story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez the main character is described in many different ways: how he acts, what he looks like, and what others say or think about him. How a character is described or portrayed in a short story makes all the difference on rather the reader can relate to him or her, if the character is good or bad, if the character is being hurt in some way, etc. In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”, the author describes the angel’s behavior, appearance, and what others think of him in order to portray the character of the angel correctly.

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The angel is a static character. Throughout the short story, his behavior does not change. After being locked up in the chicken coop, the angel just sits there without moving for a majority of the story. The angel “sat for so long without moving that [everyone] thought he was dead” (2). The angel sits there in disbelief as the people hold him captive in the chicken coop (1). The townspeople love his patience, but other than that they all see him as a circus attraction (3). The author describes the angel’s behavior as dull and motionless. Even up to the end of the story, the angel does nothing besides sitting in the chicken coop watching the people go by and letting the chickens peck at his wings to get to the parasites. The angel is described as a character who has no motion throughout the whole short story.

The angel’s appearance is described throughout the whole story. Another little piece of information is added every once in a while to help the reader get the whole picture. The angel is described as an old man that has floated ashore after a foreign ship wreck (1). He is muddy and covered in scum (1). He is also dressed as a rag picker for perhaps a distinguished person. He has “only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth, and his pitiful condition of a drenched great-grandfather [takes] away any sense of grandeur he might have had” (1). With the information that is given already, the reader sees the angel as a dirty human who has been in a ship wreck. His wings have not even come into the picture yet. The reader and the townspeople, at this point in the story, feel a bit of pity for the angel and want to do everything they can for him. The wings are described as “huge buzzard wings, dirty and half-plucked” (1). They are also covered in parasites that the chickens peck at for food (1). The angel’s pitiful state was described perfectly when that author states, “He was lying in the corner drying his open wings in the sunlight among the fruit peels and breakfast leftovers that the early risers had thrown him” (2). The angel’s “antiquarian eyes” also add to the concept of an old, sorrowful man (3). Antiquarian is defined as a person who is wise about antiques and old books. The townspeople are describing the angel as a man who is wise even though he looks like a rag picker. This tells the reader that the angel is wise, but yet not wise enough to get himself out of his current situation. The appearance of the angel adds to the overall character representation to the reader. His old, ragged, dirty looks gives the reader a sense of pity while the eyes of the old man tell the reader he is wise and full of knowledge.

How the other characters see the angel contributes to the overall concept of the character. A majority of the townspeople see the angel as a “circus attraction” (3). They have never seen an old man with wings before and they have no idea what he can do so they lock him up in a chicken coop. The local minister speaks to the angel in Latin, “the language of God (3).” When the angel does not reply in Latin or any other “holy” language, the minister automatically sees the angel as an imposter and warns the townspeople not to go near him for he might be the devil (3). Throughout the entire story, the angel is seen as an imposter, pitiful, old, and dirty through the eyes of the townspeople.

In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Marquez describes the angel’s behavior, appearance, and what others think of him in order to portray the character of the angel correctly. The angel’s behavior shows how much he is in disbelief and never moves. The appearance shows the reader vividly how the author portrays the angel. The thoughts of the townspeople show exactly how much respect they have for him when he is seen as an imposter for simply not knowing the “language of God” (3). The character of the angel is portrayed perfectly by his behavior, appearance, and what other characters think of him. The angel is shown to be sorrowful and pitiful in varies ways of description in the short story.

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