A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Summary Class 12 English
About the Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014) was a Colombian-born Spanish American novelist, short storey writer, and journalist. He is known as the literary volcano of the 1960s and a proponent of a new storytelling style known as magical realism. One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), his novel, is regarded as a classic example of magical realism. Marquez is one of the best novelists in the world, and possibly the best in Spanish literature. Gabriel Garcia Marquez and magical realism are synonymous for many readers. Magical Realism is a narrative mode in which the real and fantastic, natural and supernatural, are represented in equivalence. No One Writes to the Colonel (1961), Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), and Memories of My Melancholy Whores (2004) are among Marquez’s other best-known novels. In 1955, the story ‘A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings’ was published for the first time.
Characters: A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
- The Angel/The Old Man: Payalo discovers an elderly guy with gigantic wings resting in the mud of the courtyard, and he and his wife imprison him in a chicken coop. Not only does the old guy have wings, but he also talks in a dialect that no one understands.
- Pelayo: Pelayo, Elisenda’s husband, discovers the old guy with wings lying in the mud. He makes a lot of money by exhibiting the old guy, and then he constructs a big building with a rabbit warren.
- Elisenda: Pelayo’s wife is the one who comes up with the idea of charging an entry fee to visit him to make a lot of money after seeing the crowd.
- The Child: Pelayo’s child is sick when Pelayo finds the old guy, but his fever comes down through the night. When the angel is no longer a carnival attraction, the child occasionally plays with him in the chicken coop.
- Neighbour Woman: The neighbour woman knows everything there is to know about life and death, and she claims that the elderly guy is an angel who was probably on his way to save their ill kid when he was pushed down from the sky by the rain.
- Father Gonzaga: Before becoming a priest, Father Gonzaga worked as a woodcutter. His perspective on the old man differs from that of the neighbour woman. He advises the crowd to treat the angel kindly and with dignity, even if he doubts him.
- The Spider-Girl: The spider girl is the woman that transforms into a spider. She’s a carnival attraction. She was once a young maid, but one night she fled from her house to dance, and when she returned home, a lightning bolt of brimstone transformed her into a large spider known as a giant tarantula. She ate the meatballs thrown at her by the audience.
A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez narrates the story of Pelayo and his wife Elisenda, who discover an old man with wings in their courtyard after killing crabs in a rainstorm.
Pelayo, a poor fisherman, discovers a homeless, disoriented old man with incredibly huge wings in his courtyard. The old man speaks in an unfamiliar language. As a result, he and his wife speak with him in vain. Pelayo and his wife, Elisenda, believe after consulting a neighbour woman that the old guy must be an angel that attempted to come to take their sick child to heaven. The neighbour woman advises Pelayo to club the angel to death. And they lock the angel in the chicken coop, and their child’s fever breaks in the middle of the night. As a result, Pelayo and Elisenda feel sorry for their visitor.
The local priest, Father Gonzaga, tells the people that the old man is most likely a fake angel because he is shabby and does not speak Latin. Father Gonzaga decides to seek advice from his bishop. He promises to obtain the true truth from the church’s higher authorities. The news of the angel travels like wildfire, and the courtyard quickly takes on the appearance of a marketplace. Elisenda then comes up with the brilliant idea of charging a 5 cent entrance fee to visit the angel; they become rich very quickly. The old man mostly ignores the crowd, even when they pull his feathers and throw stones at him to get him to stand. When the visitors sear him with a branding iron to determine if he’s still alive, he becomes angry. Rome takes its time determining whether or not the old guy is an angel, and while waiting for their decision, Father Gonzaga works tirelessly to keep the crowd under control.
When a travelling freak show featuring a Spider-Girl arrives in the village, the crowd begins to disperse. Spectators are permitted to question her, and she tells them how she was transformed into a tarantula one night for disrespecting her parents. This is more appealing to the general public than an old winged man who ignores the people around him. As a result, the curious crowds immediately ignore the angel in favour of the spider, leaving Pelayo’s courtyard empty. The sad story of the spider woman is so well-known that people quickly forget about the old guy, who had only performed a few meaningless semi-miracles for his pilgrims.
Despite this, Pelayo and Elisenda have become very wealthy as a result of the admittance fees Elisenda has imposed. Pelayo quits his work and begins construction on a new, larger home. As the small boy grows older, the elderly man stays with them for several years, living in the chicken coop.
They ignore the angel and keep their kid away from the chicken coop. He quickly becomes a part of their lives, and they begin to accept him. The child pays him frequent visits. When the chicken coop falls, the old guy goes into the adjacent shed, but he frequently wanders from room to room inside the home, which annoys Elisenda.
He becomes increasingly weak and sick, and they believe he will die. But he quickly recovers. His feathers regrow, and he starts singing sea chanteys (sailors’ songs) to himself at night. Elisenda watches as the elderly man extends his wings and flies off into the air, and to her relief, he disappears beyond the horizon.
To conclude, the old man appears as an eponymous (wrongly titled) persona who appears in a family’s backyard on a stormy night. It also shows the combination of reality and illusion – a story that appears real yet contains elements of imagination.