What is the basic idea of "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"?  "A very Old Man with Enormous Wings" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The central theme of "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" seems to be one of how people handle doubt and ambiguity.  When the angel arrives, Pelayo and his wife are frightened and do not know what to think.  They call the priest and a neighbor to explain the presence of this angel, for they lack the necessary imagination.  In their obtuse misunderstanding, they turn the presence of this angel into a sideshow, with "the angel [being] the only one who took no part in his own act."  Marquez writes that the

majority understood that his passivity was not that of a hero taking his ease but that of a cataclysm in repose.

This creature of "so much human truth"  with such a "fearful lesson" is not nearly as interesting as the Spider Woman who is still part human and understandable.  To her the people can assign an "answer," so they are satisfied.  But, with the angel, there is mystery and neither the characters nor the reader can arrive at an absolute meaning.

Perhaps, then, the "human truth" that Marquez writes of is the propensity of people to assign meanings to what they cannot truly interpret.  Yet, there are events that cannot be interpreted, solutions cannot be found.  And, when one insists upon assigning a "logic" to these events, he/she runs the risk of being as foolish and credulous as the villagers.

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