The Use of Imagery In, A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
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Table of Contents

  • A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Essay
  • Symbolism in A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
  • Syntax in A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
  • The Representation of Fame in the Story
  • Conclusion

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Essay

In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” symbolism is used heavily throughout the story. Marquez uses symbolism by giving an old man angel-like qualities while he also incorporates a spider woman to represent an evil, sin-like creature. Symbolism is also used between the townspeople, who represent a greedy cluster of humans who always want more, no matter the consequences. The story’s syntax is particularly rich as each of Marquez’s sentences are constructed in a creative manner and explain each character very well. In, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” the use of symbolism, syntax, and greed are used among characters to represent the best qualities and evil qualities a human can possess over the course of a lifetime. My observation of the characters shows the different types of people that are in the story, each representing a different view of the reader.

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Symbolism in A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

Symbolism in Marquez’s story is used for multiple meanings; the old man that has angel-like qualities and wings is used to represent the calm, good side of humans. A village bystander said that the old man has very large wings and proposes that he has come to heal the sick child. “‘He’s an angel,’ she told them. ‘He must have been coming for the child, but the poor fellow is so old that the rain knocked him down (page 1).’” There’s no doubt that the old man has wings, but later in the story he is described as “dressed as a rag picker (page 1),” “His huge buzzard wings, dirty and half-plucked… (page 1),” “bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth… (page 1).” Angels in other stories are not usually represented in this manner, that is why the identity of the old man is so unclear. Another use of symbolism used in the story is the spider woman, which represents an evil spirited creature that was made from a girl who disobeyed her parents one night. She is described as “a frightful tarantula the size of a ram and with the head of a sad maiden (Page 3).” Both characters were used to represent good and evil qualities, but they played a key role in the theme of this story.

Syntax in A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

The importance of syntax is stressed throughout Marquez’s short story. The way he arranges his sentences and the diction he uses is somewhat simple throughout the story. He does use meaningful words such as “proliferated,” “affliction,” and “ingenious” throughout the second and third paragraphs. Attention to syntax is also key to understanding the villager’s response to the strange creatures; for example, the priest’s feelings towards the angel is explained through the diction of her text. “The parish priest had his first suspicion of an imposter when he saw that he did not understand the language of God or know how to greet His ministers.” This quote is an example of the priest’s suspicion towards the old man angel. The language that is used throughout the story is somewhat complex and concrete. Marquez incorporates this language in his story so he can portray what his characters are saying in a clear, organized manner. Syntax and diction are important when writing stories and novels, the proper sentence structure and language make the story above average; “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” uses very simple sentence structures but also includes above average vocabulary words, which makes the story better to evaluate.

The Representation of Fame in the Story

The villagers in “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” represent human beings who are very greedy with money and fame. When the angel is put on display we hear that “The curious came from far away (page 2).” The villagers are very curious and anxious to see the old man to see if the old man angel really exists. Later in the story, when Pelayo and Elisenda are charging villagers money to see the angel, the villagers start to torture the angel, “The only time they succeeded in arousing him was when they burned his side with an iron for branding steers (page 2).” This is where the villagers are becoming greedy, the angel is being calm and the villagers are trying to hurt him just to get him to put on a show. This shows that the angel has a good side and does not fight against the villagers. In turn, I believe that the angel is representing a good character who is very patient and calm when villagers are belligerent. The spider woman is also captive to a family, who eventually started charging people to see her; it was less than the angel, but the villagers still seem very greedy. All they care about is making a profit, they do not care for the physical health of the two creatures. These are two examples of greed throughout this story. The villagers are charging other people money to come see their creature and the villagers using physical force to get more out of the creature, which is a minor example of torture.


In conclusion, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” has a lot of symbolism among the characters. By the end of the story, we never find out if the old man is an angel, but we feel as if he represents good and the spider woman represents evil. In my opinion, the story represents a battle between good and evil, each creature representing different backgrounds as well as different values throughout the story. The angel representing the good humans who are very pleasing to society and want to see the world change for the better. While the spider woman representing the evil humans who disobey their parents and sin all the time. Both of the creatures representing a split society between humans, continuing to show a greed for money and a forgetful thought of emotions.

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