How do the villagers respond to the spider girl in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"? 

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Drawn by a morbid curiosity as well as a desire to hear her sad tale first hand, the villagers flocked in droves to see the spider girl.  The admission fee to see her was less than that charged for the "very old man with the enormous wings", and the people were also drawn to see her because they "were permitted to ask her all manner of questions about her absurd state and to examine her up and down so that no one would ever doubt the truth of her horror". 

The girl was "a frightful tarantula the size of a ram and with the head of a sad maiden".  She was a pathetic and horrific sight, but even more so than her appearance, her sincere manner in recounting "the details of her misfortune" brought the villagers to regard her with amazement and awe.  The spider girl had committed the transgression of sneaking out of her parents' house to go dancing, and after a night of forbidden amusement she had been returning home when "a fearful thunderclap rent the sky in two and through the crack came the lightning bolt of brimstone that changed her into a spider". 

The spider girl's story was one to which the people could easily relate; "a spectacle like that, full of so much human truth and with such a fearful lesson", was bound to attract much interest among the simple citizens of the village.

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