A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

by Gabriel García Márquez

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Why was the angel in Pelayo and Elisenda's backyard?

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The Old Man appears to be in Peyalo's courtyard because he fell from Heaven. People believe he's an angel. That belief is never confirmed, but he's some type of supernatural creature. There's no specific reason given in the story for why he chose that place to land. It may have been random.

When the Old Man appears, Peyalo thinks that he might be a sailor at first. However, they come to realize and accept that he's an angel. The Old Man doesn't fit any of their ideas of what angels should be. Instead, he's a mess. He's dirty, his miracles don't make sense, and his wings are strange.

He stays for years and his presence makes the family rich. He's also an annoying presence though. He's clumsy and barges in around the house and doesn't speak to them in a way that makes sense. He's an invalid who one day, as randomly as he arrived, flies away into the distance.

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The old man with enormous wings is generally thought to be an angel who's been kicked out of heaven. This is because of his dirty, shabby demeanor, and the strange language that he speaks and which no one can understand. (Norwegian, to be sure.)

If you're familiar with the story of Satan, you'll know that he too was once an angel, cast down from heaven for defying God. But there's nothing Satanic about the old man; he's actually quite angelic, appropriately enough. He may speak Norwegian instead of Latin, and he certainly can't dance on the end of a pin, but he does seem to have the ability to perform miracle cures, so that's something. And as the title of the story suggests, he does have incredibly large wings. So although Father Gonzaga, the village priest, may be more than a tad skeptical, most of the villagers are convinced that they have a real life angel in their midst, and gladly part with their hard-earned money to pay for the privilege of seeing him.

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