What are some elements of surprise in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings?"

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While the people in the story tend to get over their surprise at extraordinary things very quickly, the first appearance of the angel is quite surprising to everyone. Peylayo is returning crabs to the ocean after they invade his house when he finds the angel stuck in the mud.

He had to go very close to see that it was an old man, a very old man, lying face down in the mud, who, in spite of his tremendous efforts, couldn't get up, impeded by his enormous wings.
(Márquez,"A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," salvoblue.homestead.com)

Despite the eventual reveal that strange things like this are common -- the spider-woman is a tourist attraction but nobody questions the story of how she changed -- the angel is shocking and new. At first, Peylayo and his wife assume that the angel is a foreigner whose ship crashed, but almost everyone else agrees that he is actually a real angel, just one that is so different from humans that they can't communicate. Peylayo and his wife quickly figure out how to capitalize on the angel, moving it from the realm of the extraordinary to the mundane.

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A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

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