Compare the themes of "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" and "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World."

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The themes in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" and "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" are similar in that they both offer optimistic positive messages about ways to expand life from the soul outward. The themes are different in point of reference of topic.

One theme of the former (first listed) is that after a period of decay and despair and marginalized isolation (for whatever reason: maybe ethnic, maybe age, maybe economic failure), there will be a moment of new growth that will lead to new beginnings. Marquez shows this beautifully though the old man who is expected to die after long neglect yet suddenly grows new wing feathers--bright, clean, healthy new wing feathers--learns to fly again and experiences a new beginning.

One theme of the latter (second listed) is that the introduction of true beauty can add new dimensions and meaning to life by providing the lens for a vision of a new horizon to life. Marquez shows this through how the villagers' understanding, imaginations love and vision of life expand after caring for the body of the beautiful drowned man; giving him a parting funeral; feeling they have lost someone dear to them; and feeling they have gained an expanded consciousness.

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A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

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