A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel García Márquez

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Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings’’ was written in 1968, in the wake of its author's sudden fame. The story's timing has led some critics to suggest that it may, at least in part, be a comic treatment of Garcia Marquez's own experience as a writer, or an allegory for the condition of creative artists in general. In this reading, the old man represents the artist, and his experience in the village is a satirical account of the way a work is received by the public. While his wings mark him as extraordinary, in other ways he fails to meet the villagers' impossible expectations; and while they feel a need to account for him, this proves to be a difficult, complex, and uncertain task. Instead, they misinterpret him wildly, and abuse and exploit him as a carnival freak. By insisting on simple, dramatic "miracles" that fit comfortably with their beliefs, they give up all...

(The entire section is 298 words.)