The Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is a short story in which the author uses the setting of a small village to demonstrate that people who are gullible towards ideas transmitted by religion often miss true happiness. By analysing the characters of the angel and the priest, it is then possible to discuss the conflict between those two parties.

First of all, the angel shows that people are often mislead by appearances. Even though the wise neighbour strives to convince everyone that the old man is an angel, the religious community does not believe it. The main reason for this ambivalence is "his [the angel's] pitiful condition of a drenched great-grandfather" (261). Throughout his sojourn in the village, the angel is subject to violence, humiliation and an excessive lack of respect. Therefore, the dirty angel symbolizes that those who judge people by their appearance miss all the benefits they could gain by knowing them better.

People are "tossing him [the angel] to eat"¦ as if he weren't a supernatural creature but a circus animal" (261). The neighbourhood underestimates the angel's kindness because of the priest's declaration that the man's condition was not "up to the proud dignity of angels" (262). Just because he is not as beautiful as they would have expected an angel to be, the neighbourhood underestimate the angel's good will. Furthermore, the author uses the priest, Father Gonzaga, and the whole religious community to reveal the inappropriate structure of religion. By using sarcasm, Marquez writes that the priest's good intention of writing to the courts turns out to be complex and inefficient: "he [the priest] promised to write a letter to his bishop so that the latter would write to his primate so that the latter would write to the...