A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel García Márquez

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In "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings" -- What emotions are evoked in the reader about the old man Pity? Fear? Disgust? wonder? How does the narrator evoke these feelings?

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1. Although the angel is "disappointingly ordinary and human," he evokes a number of feelings from the reader:

  • Repulsion - Originally described as a "ragpicker" with only a few strands of hair upon his skull, suggestive of a vulture, he also has "buzzard wings" that are "dirty and half-plucked." This repulsion is from the image of the old man with wings as well as the aura of death that surrounds him.
  • Pity - As he speaks with some type of "sailor's voice," there is the suggestion that the old man with wings has been propelled from some violent storm and sea and is a castaway. Later, when he is abused by spectators and exploited by Elisenda and Pelayo.
  • Fear - Because this old man with wings defies conventional description, the reader becomes apprehensive about what he truly is. This reaction, then, is the "fear of the unknown."
  • Disgust - The old man with wings "took no part in his act." He is passive to those throwing stones at him, hens pecking at him, etc. "He tolerated the most ingenious infamies with the patience of a dog who had no illusions."
  • Admiration - As he is able to regenerate feathers after suffering abuses and neglect, the old inspires a certain admiration for his survival and victorious flight.

2. The narrator evokes a myriad of emotions from the reader with his realistic detail and his portrayal of the cruelty (he is driven out of rooms and suffers "the most ingenious infamies"), foolishness (the traveling carnival), and foibles (Father Gonzaga) of those who would exploit him as a carnival attraction or transform him in their minds and with their language as something other than what he is. The exploitation of the angel is best exemplified with the profits that Pelayo and Elisenda make on him, but when he departs, the petty Elisenda merely "let out a sigh of relief" that this "annoyance in her life" is gone.

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