How do I approach writing about "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" by Gabriel Marquez?
I had a great difficulty reading this story. I was put off by it and honestly think it is just a bit ridiculous.
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A good way to write about the story is to investigate its historical background and religious context. Doing so will make the story more readily comprehensible as well. One issue to remember is that you are reading a translation of a story from a culture quite different from your own, which means that there are many things that would be apparent to its intended audience that you will find opaque or frustrating unless you can fill in the background for yourself (your instructor may be doing some of this in lectures).
I would focus on the ways in which the story reflects a critique of the Roman Catholic church. Many South American Roman Catholics had felt that the Church had become a bureaucratic organization unresponsive to the needs of the poor and oppressed and out of touch with the true spirit of Jesus. This resulted in a movement known as `liberation theology`. Marquez`s story seems to be such a critique.
Is the old man actually an angel? He does, indirectly, bring blessings to the family, and yet they eventually persecute and reject him (just as many persecuted and rejected Jesus). The priest, rather than offer Christian charity, looks not with wonder on the angel, but tests him by seeing if he speaks Latin. As Jesus, having been a Palestinian Jew, would not have spoken Latin, but Aramaic, and a limited amount of Hebrew and possibly Greek, this shows the priest is more concerned with the “official” language of the Roman Church than of the miraculous nature of the “man” with wings appearing the couple’s time of need. As you explore the religious and spiritual aspects of the story, it may become more interesting to you.
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