A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel García Márquez Summary

Summary of A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings PDF

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Summary by Gabriel García Márquez PDF Class 12 English

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A Very Old man with enormous Wings Exercise

Main Characters of this story

Characters Introduction
Old Man with wings:   The protagonist of story, very elderly and frail, but extremely patient; is said to be an angel.
Pelayo  An ordinary peasant who discovers an old guy with huge wings and gets rich by charging visitors to view him.
Elisenda:  Pelayo's wife
Father Gonzaga:  Pastor of church attempting to determine if the elderly guy is an angel or not.
The Neighbor Woman:   Mouthy woman, says that the elderly gentleman is an angel and that he should be killed.
The Spider Woman:   Woman that diverts attention away from the elderly gentleman
The Child:   Sick at first, gradually improves

Simple Outline of the Story

  1. Pelayo notices a weathered old guy in his courtyard with huge wings.
  2. Elisenda considers charging visitors a fee to see the elderly gentleman in order to generate revenue.
  3. The old guy is mistreated and even attacked by the crowd. With a branding iron, he is stabbed and burnt.
  4. People are more interested in seeing the Spider Woman, who interacts, than the elderly guy, whose reputation has decreased as a result.
  5. Elisenda watches the elderly guy go off into the distance, disappearing into the blue of the sea.

Plot Summary of the story

This is a story about a husband and wife named Pelayo and Elisenda who live near the ocean. They are proud parents to a newborn child, though the child is sick. 

After a bad storm, they notice an old man with wings near their house and keep him in the chicken coop. The townspeople are curious as to what the man is and it is determined that the old man with wings is an angel. 

Father Gonzaga, the town priest, visits the old man with wings, but after speaking with him, the Father doesn’t believe he is an angel. 

Despite his doubt, he still writes a letter to the bishop for orders on what to do. Meanwhile, Pelayo and Elisenda begin charging people money to see the old man with wings and they become very wealthy. 

To capitalize on the popularity of the old man with wings, a woman-spider arrives and impresses the crowd, which results in fewer visitors for the old man with wings. 

Pelayo and Elisenda build a new, bigger house and raise their son as the old man with wings continue to live outside. The old man with wings begins to get sick and loses his wings, but survives the tough winter. 

In the end, the old man with wings grows new feathers on his back and eventually flies away.

Brief Summary 

Pelayo encounters a homeless, frightened elderly man with enormous wings in his yard one day while hunting crabs in a rainfall that had lasted for days. The elderly guy is unclean and feeble, and he speaks a language that is difficult to understand. In the end, Pelayo and Elisenda assume that the elderly man was an angel who had attempted to save their ill kid by attempting to take him or her to paradise. Pelayo's next-door neighbour urges him to kill the angel with a wood, but once their kid heals, he and Elisenda forgive their visitor.

Having the elderly guy living in their chicken coop attracts a lot of attention from interested onlookers. Priest Father Gonzaga, a local priest, informs the villagers that the elderly guy, who seems to be untidy and does not speak Latin, probably isn't an angel. As a result, Father Gonzaga decides to seek the advice of his bishop.

Despite Father Gonzaga's best attempts, the old man's presence quickly spreads, and pilgrims from all over flock to seek his wisdom and treatment. A lady who had been counting her heartbeats since she was a child came because she couldn't keep up. An introvert arrives because he complains that the stars in the night sky are too loud. ' 

Elisenda has to start charging entry since the gathering becomes so huge and noisy. Even when they pluck his feathers and toss stones at him in an attempt to get him to get up, the elderly guy mostly ignores the onlookers' complaints and moans. However, when the visitors use a branding iron to test whether he's still alive, he becomes enraged.

While he awaits the Church's judgement on the elderly man, Father Gonzaga tries his best to keep the crowd in control. When a travelling clown show comes into town, the audience begins to depart. People go to hear the legend of the "spider lady," a woman who, after disobeying her parents, was converted into a big spider with a human head. People rapidly forget the elderly guy, who had only done a few worthless semimiracles for his visitors, because of the popularity of the spider woman's tragic story.

Despite this, the admittance fees Elisenda levied have made Pelayo and Elisenda very rich. Pelayo resigns from his work and begins construction on a new, bigger home. As the child becomes older, the elderly guy continues to live with them in the chicken coop. Eventually, the chicken coop falls, and the old guy moves into the next shed, although he often wanders about the house, irritating Elisenda.

Just when Pelayo and Elisenda had come to believe that the elderly man would soon pass away, he starts to recover. At night, he sings sea chanteys (songs sung by sailors) to himself. Elisenda stares in wonder as the elderly guy spreads his wings and soars away into the sky.

Analytical Summary of the Story 

‘A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is a magical realist story that examines the human response to those who are weak, dependent, and different. The story shows human nature-related curiosity, greed, and cruelty. A dirty and frail old guy with enourmous wings arrived at Pelayo's courtyart one rainy day while he was throwing dead crabs into the water. He called his wife, and together they went to investigate the unusual creature. They made an attempt to communicate with him but were unable to do so due to their inability to comprehend his native language. 

Then they contacted a nearby lady, who said that he was an angel. She put the blame on him for attempting to kidnap their child and advocated for murdering him. They confined him to the coop with the hens. When it became clear that the elderly guy had no intention of abducting the kid, Elisenda had the bright idea of charging visitors to see him in order to generate revenue. The guy had a large crowd of visitors. There were differing opinions as to whether or not the elderly guy was an angel. 

Father Gonzaga attempted to learn more about the elderly guy but was unable. People began mistreating the elderly guy because he failed to impress them. He didn't seem to care what other people thought of him. Then they took a hot iron on him and stabbed him repeatedly. After that, the elderly guy becomes aggressive owing to his suffering.

People were drawn to the Spider Woman when she arrived in town because they could ask her any questions and she gave fascinating tales to them. They could ask her whatever they wanted. Additionally, seeing her was less costly. Due of the woman's presence, interest in the elderly guy began to wane. However, the couple had saved up enough money to construct a two-story home that would keep them secure from the crabs.

The couple imprisoned the Old Man in chicken coop. When the chicken coop finally destroyed in, the elderly man limped out of the house. While Elisenda continued looking, the elderly guy finally took flight and vanished into thin air after a few valiant tries.

Analysis of the Story

As the title suggests, 'A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings' is a fantastic story with elements of metafiction. Furthermore, it's rooted in religion. The topic of brutality and compassion is also present. The plot moves along smoothly, but the writing is sharp and clever. It's only natural that the author starts the story by showing how the weather conditions affect the main character. To give the story a more grounded sense, he depicted the main angel as a fragile, elderly guy with a dirty beard. Although the neighbor lady and the priest have opposing views on how to judge the creature, it reflects the general public's faith in the paranormal. 

On the other side, it demonstrates how contemporary people have evolved into businessmen who see money in everything. People pay to see the elderly guy construct a home, and the couple profit from it. People are attacking the elderly while spending money on entertainment and losing their compassion in the process. They take pleasure in the elderly man's suffering. Also, it reflects the fact that human preferences are ephemeral and they like social contact. As a result, attention is focused on the Spider Woman. 

They believe she is more receptive, amusing, and cost-effective than the old guy with the wings. The author may imply to youngsters in the Spider Woman tale that they should not disrespect their parents since doing so might lead to disastrous consequences. When the elderly guy flies off into the distance, Elisenda finally feels free.

My Personal Analysis of this story

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings is a short story. It's a very confusing story, and by the time we reach the conclusion, we don't know who that old man actually was.

It is unknown whether this creature is an angel. He is very emphatically not a Norwegian, as some of the peasants believe. This makes perfect sense to us. However, they were unsure what to make of it in any case, despite the fact that they were far wiser than these uneducated villagers with all their wacky views.

We did not fare much better than they do. 

Thus, what is Marquez attempting to convey through this story?

To be sure, some of the ambiguity may be intended to convey the point that we do not always know what to make of occurrences in our life; they may appear to be positive, but they may not be.

This story may imply that we were unaware of what was truly happening in our life and were unable to gain sufficient perspective to determine whether an occurrence was good or negative.

We are unsure how to handle it, and sometimes we handle it poorly when it occurs, because we are not wise enough, in the end, to know how to handle these events that disrupt our lives.

Another possibility is that this extremely old man with big wings is the other, or the stranger, the outsider who enters our circle from the outside.

Therefore, consider any type of outsider to a group: Individuals with disabilities, individuals with sexual orientations that differ from our own, and individuals who practice another faith. Any group can serve as the other for us, and we project all manner of negative traits onto that other.

Thus, this angel, if it is an angel, enters their lives, and instead of being intrigued and fascinated about this unique individual, they harass, exploit, and abuse this poor creature.

As a result, we often do the same thing with people who are beyond our regular experience, attempting to impose on them what we believe they should be, rather than recognizing who they are.

A third possibility is that Marquez felt like this extremely old man with big wings as he grew in popularity as a writer. He was establishing a reputation for himself, and by the time he wrote this piece, he was fairly well-known.

And superstars are perpetually conflicted about how their celebrity affects their life, their creativity, and how they are perceived elsewhere.

Thus, the writer may feel unusual, much like this elderly man with gigantic wings, a strange monster. He may be attacked, or he may be elevated on a pedestal. People may just react appropriately to him, and similar to what I stated about the outsider, people do appreciate him for who he truly is.

Rather than that, they create all these expectations for what they believe he should accomplish.

If you are a true angel, you should be white, possess magical abilities, and be strong. But that is not the case with you. You are aware?

Thus, as a writer, you may have been told, "Wait, if you are a renowned writer, we want you to do this and that, and write in this style, and be a spokesperson for this cause, or." Whatever expectations were imposed on him, he had to say, "Wait a minute, I'm going to do my art and I want to do my work," and even if they think I'm like this really old man with big wings who is gross and strange, well, that's who I am.

Thus, another interpretation of this story is possible. Now the story itself is unusual, because none of the characters are pleasant, kind, or humane.

They are all attempting to take advantage of the elderly man with gigantic wings. They are going about their daily lives. They demonstrate a great deal of ignorance in their treatment of him and their perceptions of him.

Even the church, which is supposed to be a source of enlightenment, ends up being a source of noise and red tape with nothing useful or constructive to add, so I'm wondering if it's the reader who ends up developing and changing as we examine this story and understand what not to be.

For example, we aspire to be like those people because their perspective is so limited that they truly appreciate what they have.

This fantastic creature is present, but they make no attempt to learn more about him or deduce what he is, except with scorn, dread, and hatred.

They just state, "That was not the order." If you are an angel, you are not the type of angel we seek. And they conveniently overlook all of his intriguing characteristics.

Now he smells, he's nasty, he's got bugs in his wings, and he doesn't appear to want to engage with others or exhibit and share anything. He recoils. After all, they did confine him to a chicken coop, so it's not as if he should be pleasant to these people.

Even the child regards him with contempt. Is-We are aware of what they are, but... a youngster is no more receptive than an adult. As the reader, I have the impression that I am supposed to be unlike all of those people.

And instead of attempting to force my standards on things and people, I am meant to recognize that I should value them for who they are. And then I miss out on this new exciting thing, yeah, since I am completely enclosed.

There is much more to say about the style and symbolism. We have the angel of the sea. You know, comes in on the sea, leaves on the sea breeze, sings these sailor songs known as sea chanteys, and the sea may always be a metaphor of possibilities or an unlimited, boundless nature that is both cruel and giving.

If the angel is a present from the sea, then they reject the gift, and they have no idea what to do with the gift, which is really awkward. Finally, he was able to flee and self-rescue.

Did he actually cause the miracles? 

Well, the lady who says she is an angel does have a lot of credibilities, because she says all kinds of crazy stuff. But then the narrator tells us he is an angel and talks about lunar dust and some other things that imply that he really is an angel. 

So maybe the problem is that when God, or the Divine, does erupt into our lives, we do know what to make of it, and how to treat it, and we do not even recognize it for what it is. 

He is mysterious, and maybe that's part of the message, that when the mystery comes into our lives, we try to just explain it away, and we do enjoy the deliciousness of something mysterious, something we do understand. 

But we can certainly see that, when faced with things we do understand, human nature says, let's just be afraid of it, let's stick it in the chicken coop. Maybe that is how we are with the mysterious in our lives and in the world. 

What are the themes of the story?

The story's primary themes are patience and faith, Realist Magicianry, Empathy, Cruelty, religion and compassion.

What is the location setting of the story?

The setting of the story is Pelayo's courtyard in a Spanish town near the sea during mid 50s.

About the author Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014) was Colombian-born Spanish American journalist, novelist, and short-story writer. He is regarded as the literary volcano of the nineteen sixties and an exponent of a new narrative style known as magical realism. 

His novel One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) is taken as a classical example of magical realism. Marquez is one of the best novelists of world literature and perhaps the best in Spanish literature. For many readers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and magical realism as synonymous with each other. 

Magical Realism is a mode of narrative in which real and fantastic, natural and supernatural, are coherently represented in a state of equivalence. Marquez’s other best-known novels are No One Writes to the Colonel (1961), Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), and Memories of my Melancholy Whores (2004). The story ‘A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings’ was first published in 1955. 


compress (v.) squeeze or press

stupor (n.): a state in which a person’s thoughts are not clear e.g., drunken stupor, feverish stupor

castaway (n.): ashore as a survivor of a shipwreck

celestial (adj.): belonging or relating to the heaven

magnanimous (adj.): a generous or forgiving towards enemies or less powerful rivals

reverence (n.): deep respect for someone or something

conjecture (n.): an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information

catechism (n.): religious instruction, especially in Roman catholic

decrepit (adj.): ruined because of age or neglect

impertinence (n.): lack of respect

antiquarian (adj.): relating to the antiques (old and rare things)

imposter (n.): a person who pretends to be someone else

ingenuous (adj.): innocent and unsuspecting

Supreme Pontiff (n.): The Pope (Roman catholic) 

befuddled (adj.): utterly confused

sacramental (adj.) related to Christian religious ceremony

pentinent (n.) : person who repents of a sin

cataclysm (n.): a large scale and violent event in natural or cultural history

Aramaic (n.): a language

providential (adj.): occurring to a favorable time

tribulation (n.): a state of great trouble

outlandish (adj.) that looks or sounds unfamiliar

thunderclap (n.): a crash of thunder

creolin (n.): a kind of disinfectant

myrrh (n.): a fragrant gum resin obtained from certain trees and used, especially in

perfumery, medicines, and incense

standoffish (adj.): unfriendly

exasperate (v.): irritate/worsen 

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