Write a reader response journal about "Letter to a Young Lady in Paris" by Julio Cortázar, and in that journal, discuss how magical realism is expressed differently in this story than in Gabriel García Márquez's "A Very Old Man with Tremendous Wings."

In "A Very Old man with Enormous Wings," magical realism is used to veneer the inhumane treatment of a creature whose uniqueness is impossible to separate from the mundane. In "Letter to a Young Lady in Paris," Cortázar uses magical realism to illustrate the narrator's struggle with mental illness and suicidal thoughts. Magical realism gives readers an alternative look at the crude nature of everyday life.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," Márquez uses magical realism to veneer mistreatment and discriminatory behavior. The main character is a magical creature who lands in a small village. His rare attributes cannot be truly appreciated, nor put to any use, due to the villagers' aversion to the man's looks, the noises that he makes, and the fact that they cannot categorize the man by our typically mundane aesthetic standards.

The villagers are unable to appreciate the creature's uniqueness and much less investigate its mystery. Instead, the creature is dismissed as a nuisance, treated like a dirty animal, and left to fend for itself.

The gaps of understanding about the man are caused by the villagers' lack of social exposure and, perhaps, sophistication. Yet, all questions about the man are cleverly compensated by Márquez's odd descriptions of the bizarre creature, a classic example being the following:

... they never found out whether it was because he was an angel or because he was...

(The entire section contains 534 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on