A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel García Márquez

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What is the allegory and irony of the story "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings"?

What is the allegory and irony of the story "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings"?

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I think one of the joys of this short story is that it defies interpretation. You need to note how the villagers are often exposed as foolish and gullible in their beliefs, and also how they try to make sense of the world. They stick fast to "facts" even though they are clearly ridiculous, such as the fact that angels eat mothballs, and they jump to impossible conclusions, for example when some argue that the old man should be proclaimed "mayor of the world." It is almost as if once they have conceived of an idea they make reality "fit" to...

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hellotherepeople | Student

One example of possible irony is that when they found out the man was a supposed angel, they treated him as if he was no better than a dog.

Another possible example of irony is at the end, where Elisenda sighs in relief when the angel leaves, even though it was all because of the angel that the villagers became wealthy.

The reader expects the villagers to be grateful towards the angel because he indirectly causes them to become wealthy, but instead they look upon him as though he was a burden.

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tthakkar | Student

Angels are commonly thought of to be elegant, beautiful creatures usually wearing white with a spiritual presence, not disease infested beings who wallow in their own filth.  This allegory makes you question your own perception of what angels look like.  We do not know for sure that all angles are not old men with few teeth who reek of squalor. The townspeople try, of course, to put this "angel in their own Biblical context. "The priest tested the man by speaking to him in Latin, the language of God, and by looking for a miracle". It is ironic because the old man is not treated as an angel or even an allegorical angel. The old man is treated as a sideshow, a chance for the couple to sell tickets to an absurd spectacle. In the end Marquez asks how might we treat the divine should it not conform to our "mythic picture"?

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