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Religious Symbolism In A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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“A very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is a story that was written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This tale is about an elderly man with very huge and unusual wings who appears into the village courtyard and was found by a man named Pelayo. This man was taken to Pelayo’s family home, thinking he was a form of angel being that he had wings and no one knew where he came from or where he was going. It’s however amazing how even though Pelayo and his wife were convinced that this was an angel they still use this old man as an opportunity for making money.

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The world is obviously changing and person’s view of prophecy varies. This confirms that one should not judge a book by the cover. There was such strong angelic belief due to the fact that this man had wings, people went to get healing. Though humble and quiet this man was he knew nothing about miracles and it’s still yet to be discovered who he really was. One thing for sure is that he was not a harmful being. He was quiet and humble. It was about the third day of heavy rain and so many crabs had been washed into Pelayo’s home. Their newborn was having a temperature and as such he thought it was due to the odor of the crabs. Pelayo collected the crabs and went across the soaking wet courtyard and out to the sea to throw away the crabs. The sand had become like a stew of mud filled with rotten shellfish. The place was so dark and gloomy he could hardly see. While he was on his way back home he heard the groans and saw something moving in the dark courtyard. He crawled closely to see what it was only to discover an old man lying face down into the mud struggling to rise but was unsuccessful due to its enormous wings. This was so frightening to Pelayo but being the religious man that he was , he introduced it to his wife who agreed “He’s an Angel “she told him. She thought he was coming for the sickly child but was too old that the rain knocked him down. Persons assumed that because of his wings and calm demeanor he was more of a religious symbolism that could be associated with an angel.

To add further confirmation the number three was repeated several times during the story “this happens on the third day” which also gives further confirmation as the number three was very symbolic in the bible representing the Holy Trinity. Even though they were so surprised they gazed at him so long that he started to look familiar in their eyes. Pelayo and his wife tried talking to him but could not comprehend what he was saying. It was then that they started pondering that he seems to have been a lonely cast away from a foreign ship that has gone a soar by a storm. They were so confused they called the neighbor to get a second opinion. She however confirmed what they’d initially thought saying (He is an angel). Word then rapidly spread throughout the vicinity that there was a flesh and blood angel in Pelayo’s house. They watched over him for the entire afternoon from his kitchen. When it was bed time Pelayo brought the winged man into the chicken coop to stay with the hens. It was only a short time after that the child woke up and the fever was gone. This was somewhat the confirmation that Pelayo and his wife was looking for. After seeing this Pelayo and his wife felt so kind-hearted towards this winged man thinking it was his presence that brought healing to the child. They decided to put the angel on a raft into the sea with food for three days. Here the number three is mentioned significantly as with biblical relations. They associated everything that was said with spirituality as they were convinced this was a spiritual angel. By the time they got to the courtyard however, it was filled with the entire neighborhood having fun with the angel in front of the chicken coop. There was however no reverence in the way they were treating the angel as they tossed him things to eat through the openings in the wire of the coop. This was however expected, how could one place a supposedly angel in a chicken coop? An angel should be treated with more esteem. It wasn’t long after that father Gonzago came and was quite shocked with the news.

There were also other onlookers who came; each had their own opinion of whom and what should be done about the angel. Some suggested that he be called the major others the rank of five-star general and many other. Priest Gonzago however tested him by speaking to him in the Latin language. It was then that his suspicion grew when it became evident that he did not understand the language of God. He also did not eat the mothballs they gave him as prescribed for angels. This Winged man was much too human, the unbearable smell, his wings were filled with parasites, there was nothing about him that depicts the proud dignity of angels. This would draw one conclusion, not everything with wings should be mistaken as angels. Priest Gonzaga argued this point too “He argued that if wings were not the essential element in determining the difference between a hawk and an airplane they were even less so in the recognition of angels”. The priest then decided that he was going to notify the supreme in order to determine the final verdict. Despite his argument the news about the captive angel kept spreading rapidly, it was not long after the courtyard was looking like a marketplace. There were people coming from everywhere to get healing and break through from poverty. The Pelayo’s family saw this as a great opportunity to make some money. They decided to fence the yard and collect five-cent admission fee to see the “angel”. This was so profitable in less than a week their rooms were completely filled with money they collected.

Regardless of all that was happening around the angel he took no part. He just lay there trying to make himself comfortable in his borrowed nest. There were persons throwing things on him but his only supernatural virtue seemed to be patience. Soon it was around the time of carnival and amongst the attractions there arrived a woman who had been changed into a spider for disobeying her parents. Persons had the chance to ask her as many questions as they wanted and there was no doubt the truth of her horror. This made her won the attention over the angel who scarcely even looked at mortals. The spider woman cured father Gonzago permanently of his insomnia and after everyone witnessed what had happened she got all the attention and that’s when Pelayo’s courtyard went back to being empty again. This however didn’t bother Pelayo and his wife, by now they’ve made enough money and was ready to build a two story mansion. This shows the conflict between traditions like Christianity and modern values such as greed. Even though they were of the belief that this was an angel depicting Christ they were rather quick to see the opportunity of making money to fulfill their materialistic crave. When it was all calm and the attention was no longer on the winged man, he cringed into one corner of the courtyard where he stayed motionless so no one could see him. Early one December morning he started to grow large stiff feathers on his wings. These wings look like that of a scarecrow and this was more misfortune. One morning when Elisenda was in the kitchen she felt a strong wind that blew into the kitchen. By her surprised it was the winged man flying away, she watched him until he was an imaginary dot. This Winged Man appeared as an angel because of his wings but doesn’t act Christ like. He was however able to bring an opportunity to these married couple in the village by allowing them to collect money from them. After thinking that his mission was accomplished he left.

The Winged man rising at the end is also a religious symbolism depicting Christ resurrection from the grave. Marquez’s story however illustrates the hypocrisy of human behavior. We often judge something for how it appears instead of its underlying meaning. No one took note of the priest reminder “that the devil had the bad habit of making use of carnival tricks in order to confuse the unwary”. This was obviously the case as this wasn’t an angel of God.

10 October 2020

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