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A strange old man with enormous wings reveals the story of a couple, Pelayo and his wife Elisanda, who discovers a strange old man with enormous wings in their courtyard after killing crabs in a rainstorm. Pelayo summons his wife, and the two of them attempt to communicate with the man, but their efforts are futile because he cannot understand them. They finally attempt to summon their female neighbor, who tells them that the mysterious man is really an angel who has come to care for their sick boy. They put the angel in a kitchen coup but during the night their child’s fever subsided. They feel generous and decide to let the angel go but when they return to the kitchen coup the next morning, they find out that the entire community had come to their courtyard to see the angel. Father Gonzaga, who is the local parishioner also arrives and declares that the old man is an impostor and he should be treated with caution. He offers to get the real truth concerning the angel from the higher ranks of the church. The news of the angel spreads far and wide and people from all over came to Pelayo’s house to see the angel. An idea strikes Elisenda and she decides to charge everyone a small fee of five cents for viewing the strange man and this venture makes the couple rich. Although the father had contacted them, the higher church ranks took longer in deciding whether the old man was an angel or not, while waiting for their decision Father Gonzaga faces a hard time restraining the crowds. When a carnival featuring a spider girl arrives in the town the crowd eventually leaves on its own and opt to go see the strange girl who had been transformed into a giant spider rather than the old man with wings. The townsfolk are allowed to interview the girl and when she narrates to them how she was transformed into a spider after disobeying her parents this really intrigues the people. They found this story more fascinating and opted to leave Pelayo’s courtyard.Palayo and his wife get rich enough to build a mansion with all the money they accumulated. They neglect the poor old man and restrict their child from getting close to him. The angel soon becomes a part of their life and they were no longer frightened by him. They allow their child to visit him and a after a while the chicken coup fell apart. This prompted them to allow him into the main house although it caused Elisenda much distress. The angel gets sickly and frail and they fear that he might die on their hands. Much to Elisanda’s great relief, the angel recovers back to health and she watches him fly away.
Interpretation 1 Jessica states that, “In literature, magical realism uses a backdrop of realistic elements with instances of the magical in order to portray an unconventional reality to the reader. Writers often use magical realism to portray events that many of their readers may not understand as reality, but are part of the writer’s cultural or political experience” (Jessica 152)In her interpretation, she places magical realism within the context of Latin America where the author of the story was born. This story has a historical backdrop influenced by the author’s background. In her review of the story she states “Magical realism undoubtedly has in influence upon Latin American fiction since the cultures within Latin America are heavily influenced by superstition and myth, which they interpret as a kind of history. The definition of magical realism by Roh would later spark the minds of Latin American writers such as Jorge Luis and Gabriel Garcia Marquez” (Jessica 154).In the review, the author translates the story as political. He states “although the story is introduced as a tale for children, there exist deeper meanings within the story as some of the magical elements hold a political force. For example, after Pelayo has placed the man with wings within the chicken coop, it is discovered that the stranger does not speak any language, although people speculate that it may be Latin.” (Jessica 159).
The interpreter believes that the act of the author of the story endowing the old man with an unknown language gives credence toward a political concept of the story. It is apparent that the author is addressing the issue of racial difference by making a political statement through the strange winged man believed by the villagers to be an angel. The winged man is represented by the author as an outsider but at the same time someone who is aware of the culture and yet separate from it. Interpretation 2In this interpretation of the story, the element of magic realism is also evident. The author of the story describes events vividly thus making the readers feel that the events described are realistic. He includes details to help the readers smell, see and feel the setting. The author achieves this by describing the events in the story in details “…..they thought the smell was making the baby sick. The sky was dark when Palayo was coming back to the house. He could just see something moving and groaning…” (Marquez 143)Another aspect of this translation is irony, especially when the townsfolk were afraid of the man with wings. Angels are super natural beings believed to be divine. In a religious setting where there is a parishioner it would be expected that they would embrace the angel’s divinity but instead they shunned him. The interpreter proves this when he states “.The man with wings seems to be an angel. It is expected that people would treat an angel well. It is ironic that the people treat him so badly” (Holt 143)The theme of irony is evident in almost the whole story. “The setting of this story is very realistic. I can picture the town as a very real place and the characters as real people. However, the author introduces elements of magic realism with the descriptions of the “angel” and how the people view him. Father Gonzaga brings the story back into the real world, as he questions whether the old man is actually an angel” (Holt 144)
My own InterpretationI believe that A very old man with enormous wings is a traditional tale for children meant to instill some social and cultural virtues in children. Although it is introduced as a tale for children, there are deeper meanings within the story. Both adults and children can derive different meanings and lessons from the story.The story emphasizes on social values like kindness. This evidenced by the part in the story where Pelayo finds the winged old man and instead of throwing him out as would be expected he put him up in the chicken coop. “He’s an angel,” she told them. “He must have been coming for the child, but he is so old that the rain knocked him down.” The next day everyone knew that an angel was in Pelayo’shouse. Against the judgment of the wise neighbor, they did not have the heart to club him to death” (Marquez 143).Reward for kindness is also another theme of the story. It is evidenced when Pelayo and Elisenda take the winged old man in and their baby who was sick gets better. The lesson derived from this incident in the story is that one good deed deserves another. “That night, before going to bed, Pelayo dragged the old man out of the mud and locked him in the chicken coop. In the middle of the night, the child woke up without a fever. Then Pelayo and Elisenda felt generous. They decided to put the angel on a raft on the ocean with enough fresh water and food to last three days.” (Marquez 144)
Opportunism and greed have also been highlighted in this story. Elisenda capitalizes on the presence of the winged old man and decides to charge everyone fifty cents. She did not have anything to do with the coming of the angel. It would be expected that she would let the townsfolk see him for free but instead she grabs the opportunity to enrich her family. “The priest’s warnings had little effect. The news of the angel spread so quickly that in a few hours the courtyard was as busy as a marketplace. Elisenda then got the idea of fencing in the yard and charging people five cents each to see the angel” (Marquez 144)Obedience and punishment are other values that have been emphasized in the story. The author puts on emphasis on the theme of obedience and punishment by telling the story of the young girl who was turned into a spider because she had disobeyed her parents. The lesson derived from this incident in the story is that obedience leads to destruction.
Difference between the interpretationsWhere as in the first interpretation the story’s theme was magic realism with an undertone of politics and history, the second interpretation was based on irony, satire and magical realism. In the second interpretation the story was based on irony and satire and it was evidenced when the miracles the townsfolk expected were quite the opposite. It is like the author was poking fun at those who did not know through the use of satire.In my own interpretation I believe the author used the story to pass a message and lessons to the reader.
Love in the Time of Cholera
"Love in the Time of Cholera" is a novel by Colombian Nobel-prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It was first published in 1985, and its English translation by Edith Grossman was released by Alfred A. Knopf in 1988. The novel is a powerful portrayal of love and loss, as well as of the underlying themes of human dignity and equality. In the course of its three-part narrative, Love in the Time of Cholera explores love's role in the lives of the characters and those affected by the epidemic.
"Love in the Time of Cholera" has numerous layers, including multiple perspectives from different characters. The novel explores the loneliness of both the individual and humankind, and the isolation that comes with love. "Love in the Time of Cholera" is a novel that aims to challenge traditional conceptions of women as victims of patriarchal values and sex inequality. The novel's strong female characters reclaim their femininity, while remaining grounded in reality.
"Love in the Time of Cholera" possesses a feminist reading that affirms the possibilities for women to triumph over sexism, prejudice, and power. However, the novel contains many instances of violence against women and the exploitation of women by men and their oppression by society. And, unlike many other feminist works, it is a rare example of a book that tackles social injustices head on.
Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Adaptation of a Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. Balcells: Agencia literaria carmen, 1971.
Jessica. "One Look at Teaching Magical Surrealism through Gabriel Garcia Marquez." Minnesota English Journal (2005): 152.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings." Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. Leaf storm and other stories. HarperCollins, 1971. 143
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