What are the major conflicts in the short story "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"? What point of view does the author use?

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thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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A different conflict in the story is the issue of the old man’s true nature. While Pelayo and Eliseda try to ignore the wings of the old man and subject him to human nature, they assume the old man is a sailor washed ashore after a shipwreck. A neighbor, however, points out the wings on the man and suggests the winged man is actually an angel. 

It does not take long for the spectacle to attract people to Pelayo’s home, and the mystery brings along the village priest. Additionally the situation introduces a conflict with religion because the priest is convinced that the man is not an angel but an imposter. He writes a letter to his superiors informing them of the man, but the church does not show any sense of urgency on the matter. 

The narrator of the story tells the story in third-person and is equally perplexed by the mystery, which remains unresolved after the old man flies away in the end.

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linda-allen's profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The first form of conflict that we encounter in the story is man vs. nature. It has been raining for three days, and the house is full of crabs. While sweeping the crabs out of the house, Pelayo discovers the winged man. That encounter introduces the conflict of man vs. the supernatural. You could say that the conflict man vs. society exists between the winged man and the rest of the people.

The story is told in a third-person narrative style. This narrator, according to the eNotes study guide is unreliable, seeming to

direct the reader all over the map and to be inconsistent in his own attitude to events. The villagers' wild ideas about the old man are often presented as obvious delusions, characterized as "frivolous" or ‘‘simple'' by the narrator. But at other times, he seems no more skeptical than the villagers...as if it presented no mystery at all. Though they are wise in ways the villagers are not, and see through the various fanciful interpretations of the visitor, readers come to feel that the narrator may not fully understand the old man himself. Such an unreliable storyteller makes a mystery even more mysterious, complicating efforts to fix a definite meaning to the tale.