What is the symbolic significance of the old man and  his enormous wings? Why is the appropriate that the story contains almost no dialogue? How does the blend of realistic and fantastic elements...

What is the symbolic significance of the old man and  his enormous wings? Why is the appropriate that the story contains almost no dialogue? How does the blend of realistic and fantastic elements affect the story?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An author can blend realistic elements with fantasy elements in order to make a commentary on society, people, politics, etc. without being blatantly obvious. For example, an author could be making a point about racism by having Earthlings hate the intelligent species from another planet. In this story, the same kind of thing is being done. The old man is being taken advantage of because of who and what he is. He's being farmed out for profit because he's different. There are various themes that are being explored about the elderly, greed, materialism, and foreignness. Young readers or non-critical readers might think the story is nothing more than a sad story about an old man with wings. They might only see the fantasy elements of the story. The fantasy of the characters allows the writer to hide the story's deeper messages within the symbolism of the story. The old man is a pivotal symbol because of how many things he symbolically represents. He himself is symbolic of a lot of things, but how people respond to him also allows the author to create other characters that are symbolic of other things as well. A good example of this is how Elisenda is symbolic of materialistic greed.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author has chosen to make this a 3rd person omniscient point of view.  We as readers gain the thoughts of many of the characters, though never the old man.  The central focus of the story isn't so much the arrival and existence of the man, but how everyone reacts to him.  If the focus was the man, then the author would have provided details about his past and the nature of his existence.  Instead, we are meant to see how people treat him and how they explain him.  This gives clues to human nature.  Thus, dialogue is not important.  Behavior alone is important.  People lie often when they speak, but their actions have more truth.  Therefore, dialogue in this story would just get in the way.

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A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

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