Section 1 Summary - Arrival

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 315

While Garcia Marquez makes no divisions in the text, this discussion will consider the plot in four separate stages. The story begins with the ‘‘old man's’’ arrival and ends with his departure. The intervening period, which covers several years, may be divided into two stages: the brief sensation caused by...

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While Garcia Marquez makes no divisions in the text, this discussion will consider the plot in four separate stages. The story begins with the ‘‘old man's’’ arrival and ends with his departure. The intervening period, which covers several years, may be divided into two stages: the brief sensation caused by his appearance and a long period of declining interest in which the strange visitor is all but forgotten.

Arrival
The setting is an unnamed coastal village, at an unspecified time in the past. A long rainstorm has washed crabs up from the beach into Pelayo's house, creating an odor he thinks may be affecting his sick newborn child. Disposing of their carcasses, he sees a figure groaning on the ground in his courtyard; as he moves closer, he discovers it to be ''an old man, a very old man, lying face down in the mud, who, in spite of his tremendous efforts, couldn't get up, impeded by his enormous wings.'' Staring at this pitiful "bird-man," Pelayo and his wife Elisenda begin to overcome their amazement, and even find him familiar, despite those mysterious wings. While they can't understand his language, he seems to have ‘‘a strong sailor's voice,’’ and at first they decide he is a shipwrecked foreign sailor, somehow managing to overlook the need to explain his wings. But a neighbor soon "corrects" them, stating confidently that he is an angel. Assuming he is nothing but trouble, she advises them to kill him. Not having the heart for it, Pelayo instead locks the old man in his chicken coop, still planning to dispose of him, only now by setting him to sea on a raft. He and Elisenda wake the next morning to find a crowd of neighbors in the courtyard and a far more complicated situation on their hands; suddenly, ''everyone knew that a flesh-and-blood angel was held captive in Pelayo's house.’’

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Section 2 Summary - Sensation