Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Conflicts in A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is a short story written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – an outstanding Colombian short story writer, novelist, journalist, and politician. The essay is focused on the conflicts raised in the short story.

Gabriel Marquez was a representative of a literary movement called magic realism. Its characteristic features are a mixture of different national cultural traditions, of myths and realities of modern life with its moral norms. It is an organic combination of realistic and fantastic features domestic and mythological outlook on life. Such a conflict between rational and imaginary world is the backbone of the short story A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. It is the major conflict that defined in a range of events and different characters, that is why helps to drive the story forward.

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Summary

The action takes place in the ordinary village, where out of the ordinary things happen. A strange old man with enormous wings appears on the courtyard of a usual family of Pelayo and Elisenda. No one knew where he came from and why he has wings on his back. A knowledgeable neighbor says that he is an angel, because of wings. But on the other hand, the author describes the man very realistic, like an ordinary person. He looks more like an old beggar rather than an angel: “He was dressed like a ragpicker. There were only a few hairs left on his head, and there were very few teeth in his mouth. His wings were covered in mud.” (Marquez) Such a contrast provokes a conflict of man versus the supernatural.

Moreover, the conflict can be found within an old man. He is a combination of real and imaginary. He is a human with enormous wings and does not look like other people. He feels himself an outcast as he is unwanted and leaves that place at the end of the story.

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Analysis

The other conflict arises between a person and society that is seen in the attitude of the village people towards the winged man. The way they treat him causes a storm of resentment and indignation as he is an innocent creature and does no harm: “His only angelic virtue seemed to be patience. The hens pecked at him, and injured visitors pulled out feathers to touch their broken limbs with. Even kind people threw stones at him, trying to get him to stand up.” (Marquez) The man and the villagers even speak in different languages that causes a communication failure and somehow explains the treatment of the old man.

Also, a conflict between the reader and the short story can be singled out. The author leaves the reader without the explanation of who the old man is and why he appeared in that village on that particular day. So everyone can interpret the text in their own way and cannot find the right answer to those questions.
To make a conclusion, the conflicts overflow the short story A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings and remain unresolved. Gabriel Garcia Marquez masterfully inserts conflicts throughout the text but gives every reader an opportunity to find the solution on their own.

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