What archetypes can be found in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"?Jorge Garcia Marquez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With archetype meaning the original pattern or model after which a thing is made, the story itself is an archetype of a fairy tale with the role of the supernatural mixing with the mundane.  However, while Marquez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is in the style of a folk or fairy tale, it does not provide a moral lesson.  Instead, it blurs the line between the significant and the trivial as the townspeople misinterpret and then become weary of the old man with wings.

There is also a blurring of the role of the old man with enormous wings, whose appearance hardly affects Pelayo who perceives little difference between the "angel" and the crabs in his house.  The old man with wings may, perhaps, represent the angel of death since the village woman believes that he has come for the ailing child.  However, his act of taking the boy reverses to the boy's becoming well.  Other misdirected "miracles" occur:  the blind man does not see, but he suddenly grows three more teeth; the leper's sores do not heal, but sunflowers start to grow out of them.  That the angel is weakened in powers is indicated by his parasites and his inability to take flight. 

Full of mystery, the old man is too complex for the villagers; they are content with the trite moralizing of the SpiderGirl, an aberration from the archetype of a minotaur, also a half-human creature.  The SpiderGirl's tale is simple and understandable, so the villagers accept it whereas they are confused by the weakened angel who stirs dung into the air with his parasitic wings. Pelayo's wife complains of the old man nearness, making her life "a hell full of angels" in which she becomes "unhinged" in spite of her having grown rich at the angel's expense.

Despite different interpretations of these archetypes, they all serve to blur the lines between reality and illusion.  After all, no one quite knows what to think of the incidents that occur, the moralizing of the Spider Girl, or the old man with wings's incongruous appearance.

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A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

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