A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

by Gabriel García Márquez

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What are examples of simile in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings?"

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The first paragraph of the story contains a great simile that is being used to describe the sands of a beach. We are told that on March nights, the sands "glimmered like powdered light."

The second paragraph of the story contains another simile. Pelayo and Elisenda are at the back...

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of their house looking at the old man with enormous wings, and we are told that the old man is "dressed like a ragpicker." It's not a very flattering simile, but it does help create the right image about the old man.

In the fifth paragraph, Father Gonzaga looks at the old man, and the old man appears to look "like a huge decrepit hen." Once again, the simile does a nice job of helping readers visualize the awful condition of the old man.

Later in the story, readers are told that the couple does not wash down the chicken coop very often. When they do, it's only to get rid of the smell which "hung everywhere like a ghost."

Near the very end of the story, we are told that the angel dragged himself "like a stray dying man."

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The writing style in the story is very simple and direct, and so similes are rare. Two of the most important concern the angel; he is not a gleaming figure of holy light but instead a very human creature without obvious supernatural abilities. The wings are not composed of fairylight, but dirty and missing feathers, very practical and disappointing.

...that pitiful man who looked more like a huge decrepit hen among the fascinated chickens.
[...]
The angel went dragging himself about here and there like a stray dying man... Elisenda shouted that it was awful living in that hell full of angels.
(Márquez, "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," salvoblue.homestead.com)

These similes show how the angel is probably not anything supernatural, but instead just a living human with wings, different than the normal humans to which the village is accustomed. This is not an extraordinary fact, since the world in the story contains some form of magic, as seen in the spider-woman. Describing the angel as "like a huge decrepit hen" shows his flaws and gives the impression that he is not actually connected to a heavenly realm; on the other hand, it is possible that the human understanding of the heavenly realm is idealized, and in fact it is as human and flawed as the Earthly realm.

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In the short story "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings," what are some examples of similes and metaphors?

In the second paragraph, many similes and metaphors also are present. For example, the angel is compared to a "drenched great-grandfather." This metaphor is important as the angel acts very much like a guardian grandfather to the sick child. As well, the angel is compared to a "castaway from a foreign ship." These attempts to identify the angel are important to the people in their attempt to rationalize the existence of the angel and where he originated from.

Three important similes occur later in the story in connection with the angel:

Besides, the few miracles attributed to the angel showed a certain mental disorder, like the blind man who didn’t recover his sight but grew three new teeth, or the paralytic who didn’t get to walk but almost won the lottery, and the leper whose sores sprouted sunflowers. (paragraph 10)

The people expect great events to occur in connection with the angel, but, unfortunately, as he is compared to other dysfunctional angels, they decide that they have an angel with a disorder. They are sorely disappointed. Ironically, he is also compared, metaphorically, at the end of the story to a "senile vulture" when Elisenda watches him fly away. This angel is apparently not the typical, ideal heavenly figure and is simply a curious attraction.

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In the short story "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings," what are some examples of similes and metaphors?

There is actually an example of both of these literary terms in the first paragraph of this excellent story. Before we examine them, however, let us just remind ourselves about the difference between the two examples of figurative language. Both similes and metaphors compare one object to another object, but the difference is that similes do this by using the word "like" or "as," whereas metaphors assert a direct comparison without these words.

Let us consider the following quote:

Sea and sky were a single ash-grey thing, and the sands of the beach, which on March nights glimmered like powdered light, had become a stew of mud and rotten shellfish.

As the landscape is described as Pelayo wakes up and has to kill more crabs, note the simile that describes the sand on March nights to "powdered night." However, now, it is a "stew of mud and rotten shellfish." I hope you realise that this is a metaphor, as it compares the sands to a stew but without using the word "like" or "as." I hope this gives you the idea of how to spot and identify and distinguish between similes and metaphors. Go ahead and re-read this excellent story and see if you can identify any more. Good luck!

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What are some examples of hyperbole in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"?

Hyperbole is a figure of speech that involves some kind of exaggeration. The exaggeration exists to really make a point of emphasis. For example, saying that my kids have "a ton of Legos" is an exaggeration. They have a lot; however, they do not have 2,000 pounds of plastic bricks.

This short story has a lot of great examples of hyperbole. The opening paragraph of the story has a good example of hyperbole when it tells readers about sadness:

The world had been sad since Tuesday.

Really? The entire world had been sad since Tuesday? That would be a tremendous number of people that have been sad for quite some time. It's an exaggeration, but it serves the purpose of letting readers know that many people have been sad for a number of days.

The second paragraph has the following usage of hyperbole.

His huge buzzard wings, dirty and half-plucked, were forever entangled in the mud.

"Forever" in mud is a long time, but again it creates a great image. The man's wings have been completely covered, and they are not likely to ever get fully cleaned.

A bit later, readers get a hyperbole that is used to let us know exactly how old and frail this man/angel is.

He must have been coming for the child, but the poor fellow is so old that the rain knocked him down.

A person, no matter how old, shouldn't be able to be knocked down by rain alone.

About halfway through the story comes the following hyperbole.

. . . a poor woman who since childhood has been counting her heartbeats . . .

This one is a great usage of hyperbole because it simply isn't possible, but it does really drive home how desperately she is focused on her health.

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What are some examples of hyperbole in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings"?

Sure. There are many examples of hyperbole (extreme exaggeration for effect) in this great short story. I would say the first line is hyperbole: " On the third day of rain they had killed so many crabs inside the house that Pelayo had to cross his drenched courtyard and throw them into the sea, because the newborn child had a temperature all night and they thought it was due to the stench."

That's a lot of crabs!Hyperbole for the purpose of gentle satire is introduced soon after: " And yet, they called in a neighbor woman who knew everything about life and death to see him, and all she needed was one look to show them their mistake."

She knew everything? And could define him in one look? That's extreme.

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