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A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings Essay

Gabriel García Márquez’s A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings is a story about humanity and the supernatural. If you have been assigned to write an essay on this story you may be at a loss of where to begin because there are so many topics that can be discussed. Look at an overview of the story, then take a look at some of the most common questions asked about this beautifully written piece of art.

Story overview

One day while in his courtyard, a man named Pelayo finds a homeless, disoriented old man who has very large wings. The man is dirty and senile, and Pelayo and his wife, Elisenda, think he must be an angel who has come to take their sick child. Pelayo's neighbor urges him to kill the angel, but he and his wife instead take pity on the old man.

They keep the man in their chicken coop, and visitors begin to come see him. A local priest denies that the man is an angel, but people still come to see him and ask for help with ailments and troubles. Elisenda begins charging admission to see the man, and the man never actually takes any interest in the people that come to see him. They pluck his feathers and throw things at him, and at one point they try to poke him with a branding iron.

The crowd leaves the old man in order to see a traveling freak-show and to ogle at the poor people in the show. Pelayo and Elisenda have become wealthy from charging admission and they build a large house, leaving the old man alone in the coop, which eventually collapses, forcing him into the shed. Eventually the old man recovers and flies away.


You could discuss whether or not Pelayo and Elisenda are nice people or using the old man, or you can discuss the village people and their treatment of the man. Another theme is the supernatural and how it effects the people in the story. You can also talk about the imagery and feelings the writing conjures. There is a constant level of uncertainty and fear, and that can lend itself to a topic about how people lash out at what they don't understand (the man with wings and the spider girl). Finally, the theme of humanity and how we treat our fellow humans, whether they are like us or not, is very apparent in this story and a great topic to discuss.


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