Gabriel García Márquez

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How does magical realism in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" serve as a postcolonial resistance method?

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Magical realism, as a postcolonial method of resistance, is when those who have been oppressed and discriminated against finally find the strength to struggle against their oppression.

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The magical realism in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is symbolic of the postcolonial resistance that people have to continuing oppression and discrimination. Let's look at how this works.

When an old man with wings drops into the mud in front of Pelayo...

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and Elisenda's house, the couple is shocked. They think that perhaps the old man is an angel coming to collect their sick newborn. Not knowing exactly what to do and certainly not trusting this “angel,” they lock him up in their chicken coop. The neighbors gather to stare and taunt the old man. Father Gonzaga comes with advice that no one really listens to. Meanwhile, the old man merely lies there, sometimes ranting a bit, sometimes crying. He is in pain, and this mistreatment does not help.

Eventually the interest in the old man dies down, but Pelayo and Elisenda have made some money off of him. The “angel” manages to survive the winter, and come spring, he actually takes off and flies away.

This old man with wings is symbolic of countries and cultures striving to come out from under colonial rule. They are often badly damaged and still greatly oppressed, often by some of their own people who should know to treat them better. Instead, these “leaders” keep their own nations in bondage for their personal profit. The nations, meanwhile, like the old man, have a difficult time resisting, but they build up their strength, over time and through great hardships, and then, one day, they are ready to fly free.

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What are three scenes in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" that use magical realism to display how the story works as a post-colonial method of resistance?

Scenes in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" that connect magical realism with postcolonial methods of resistance include Father Gonzaga's initial assessment of the winged man, the townspeople's and spectators' refusal to heed the priest, and the angel leaving town.

In magical realism, the author blends elements of fantasy with a realistic setting and style. In this story, the magical aspect concerns the man's wings, and he is placed in a realistic setting of a seaside village. Postcolonial resistance can include numerous peaceful methods of challenging institutions of authority or the individuals who represent that authority. These methods often include the failure to obey laws or cooperate with powerful people's requests. Resistance may also be indicated by withdrawing from society, including leaving an unacceptable situation.

In the first instance, the winged man shows resistance to the authority of the church as embodied in Father Gonzaga. The man, whom some villagers declared an angel, neither speaks Latin nor shows the appropriate "dignity." Upon greeting the man in Latin, the priest suspects

an imposter . . . [who] did not understand the language of God or know how to greet His ministers. Then he noticed that . . . the back side of his wings was strewn with parasites and his main feathers had been mistreated by terrestrial winds, and nothing about him measured up to the proud dignity of angels.

As the story progresses, two villagers encage the "angel" and make money selling tickets to see him. They disregard the priest's insistence that they should await guidance from the church fathers. He expects the Bishop will

write his primate so that the latter would write to the Supreme Pontiff in order to get the final verdict from the highest courts. His prudence fell on sterile hearts . . . Elisenda . . . got the idea of fencing in the yard and charging five cents admission to see the angel.

By the end, the visitors had become fascinated with a spider woman, and the angel is no longer held captive. Whether he could have escaped sooner but complied with his captors' actions is not revealed. He grows new feathers, and flies away. Elisenda watched him pass over the last houses, holding himself up in some way with the risky flapping of a senile vulture.

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