What is the Church's response to the old man in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Church in this story is summed up in the character of Father Gonzaga, who comes to see the old man very alarmed at what he has heared about the strange visitor who has graced the household of Pelayo and his family. However, Father Gonzaga believes that this man could not be an angel, because of his appearance first of all. We are told that the old man was "a pitiful man who looked more like a huge decrepit hen among the fascinated chickens." Secondly, Father Gonzaga greets the man in Latin. The man's failure to respond shows that he "does not understand the language of God or know how to greet His ministers." Lastly, he has nothing of the divine about him, and is far too human:

...nothing about him measured up to the proud dignity of angels.

Thus it is that the Church, in the form of Father Gonzaga, counsels prudence and is sceptical about the angelic identity of the man. Marquez may well be satirising the church in this episode and the power and supposed knowledge that they have.

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