Contrast themes from this text with "Once Upon a Time," Walker's "Everyday Use" of staying grounded & remember where you come from theme?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings," by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, revolves around perceptions based upon appearances. Because the angel that comes to their town is not young, beautiful and glowing, the townspeople have no time for him. They base his importance on what they see, even discounting the several miracles he performs. The "remember where you came from" theme can be seen with Pelayo and his wife. When the angel arrives, they have nothing. People descend upon the town to see the angel, and pay Pelayo money for the opportunity. When the people finally leave, Pelayo has a great deal of money. However, rather than appreciating what the angel has done for them, they dismiss him and wish he would leave, even though their success is a miracle of sorts for them.

In "Everyday Use," by Alice Walker, the theme here is staying grounded. Walker shows the reader by stark contrast, how two sisters with the same heritage can view it so differently. Dee is embarrassed by what her ancestors did when coming to this country: she resents their assimilation to a white man's world, allowing themselves to be further enslaved—by choice in recent years. Maggie admires and respects her ancestors and her heritage. She is proud of what they have done, and proud to be from that line of self-sacrificing and hard-working people. She remained connected to them, while Dee has chosen to separate herself.

The theme in Gordimer's "Once Upon a Time," is to enjoy what you have, and to view with world with objectivity. The family in the story has everything they could ask for, but their fear of the outside world compromises their perceptions of the society, and eventually their sense of security. The information they use to make these decisions come from the media and hearsay; only once do they venture outside their home to look around, and they use what little dependable information they have to change the way they live.

The family installs countless devices and adopt new methods to protect themselves from the dangers they believe exist outside their home, but become victims to the dangers they create themselves from within.


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A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

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