A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Questions and Answers
by Gabriel García Márquez

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What are examples of simile in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings?"

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The first paragraph of the story contains a great simile that is being used to describe the sands of a beach. We are told that on March nights, the sands "glimmered like powdered light."

The second paragraph of the story contains another simile. Pelayo and Elisenda are at the back of their house looking at the old man with enormous wings, and we are told that the old man is "dressed like a ragpicker." It's not a very flattering simile, but it does help create the right image about the old man.

In the fifth paragraph, Father Gonzaga looks at the old man, and the old man appears to look "like a huge decrepit hen." Once again, the simile does a nice job of helping readers visualize the awful condition of the old man.

Later in the story, readers are told that the couple does not wash down the chicken coop very often. When they do, it's only to get rid of the smell which "hung everywhere like a ghost."

Near the very end of the story, we are told that the angel dragged himself "like a stray dying man."

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The writing style in the story is very simple and direct, and so similes are rare. Two of the most important concern the angel; he is not a gleaming figure of holy light but instead a very human creature without obvious supernatural abilities. The wings are not composed of fairylight, but dirty and missing feathers, very practical and disappointing.

...that pitiful man who looked more like a huge decrepit hen among the fascinated chickens.
[...]
The angel went dragging himself about here and there like a stray dying man... Elisenda shouted that it was awful living in that hell full of angels.
(Márquez, "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," salvoblue.homestead.com)

These similes show how the angel is probably not anything supernatural, but instead just a living human with wings, different than the normal humans to which the village is accustomed. This is not an extraordinary fact, since the world in the story contains some form of magic, as seen in the spider-woman. Describing the angel as "like a huge decrepit hen" shows his flaws and gives the impression that he is not actually connected to a heavenly realm; on the other hand, it is possible that the human understanding of the heavenly realm is idealized, and in fact it is as human and flawed as the Earthly realm.

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