In "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings," how does the speaker describe the angel?

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

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It is clear that the speaker regards the angel as either an object worthy of pity or a person who is rather unkempt and does not deserve the interest he inspires in the villagers who eagerly try to come up with various theories as to why he exists. Note the way that the angel is described in the second paragraph of the story:

He was dressed like a ragpicker. There were only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth, and his pitiful condition of a drenched great-grandfather took away any sense of grandeur he might have had. His huge buzzard wings, dirty and half-plucked were forever entangled in the mud.

The narrator seems to be deliberately playing with the expectations of the reader in this description. The reader would have a very fixed notion of an angel thanks to the title, which is a figure associated with honour, dignity, beauty and might. This man, by contrast, is presented as being an object that commands nothing else except the reader's pity, and even his scorn. Consider the way he is compared to a "ragpicker" and his general poor condition. Even his wings are a far cry from the angelic, soft whiteness the reader may expect, as they are "dirty and half-plucked." The speaker therefore seems to feel either pity for him or contempt due to his poor condition.

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