Summary of the Story
‘A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings’ is a magical realist story which examines the human response to those who are weak, dependent, and different. The story shows human nature-related curiosity, greed and cruelty. It is a supernatural story that relates fantasy and myth into everyday life. It is also based on religion. Besides, it consists the theme of cruelty and compassion. The story has a smooth flow, words are very witty though.
The author begins the story with the effects of weather condition on its central character, which is natural. He has presented the fantasy character, the so called angel as a weak, filthy old man to make it feel more real. There is contrasting view of the neighbor woman and the priest in judging the creature, however, it represents the people’s belief on supernatural things.
On a rainy day, Pelayo was throwing dead crabs into the sea when he saw a filthy and weak old man with enormous wings at his courtyard. He called his wife and they observed the strange creature. They tried to talk to him but they could not understand his language. Then they called a neighbor woman who told them that he was an angel. She blamed him trying to take their child and suggested killing him. They imprisoned him in the chicken’s coop. When they were assured that the old man was not interested in taking the child, Elisenda thought of making money by charging the people for viewing the old man. Many people came to see the man. There were arguments on whether the old man was an angel or not. Father Gonzaga tried to investigate about the old man but could not.
The couple continued making money and people started mistreating the old man as he did nothing to impress them. He was unresponsive to people’s reaction. They poked him and burned him with a branding iron. Then the old man became violent due to pain. There appeared the Spider Woman in the town and people were attracted to her as they could ask her any questions and she told her interesting stories to the people. Moreover, it was less expensive to see her. Because of the woman, people’s attraction to the old man slowly faded. However, the couple had collected enough money to build a two-story house to be safe from the crabs and angels. Finally, the chicken coop got collapsed and the old man went out dragging. One winter, with few attempts, the old man flew off the horizon of the sea and Elisenda kept watching it. Finally Elisenda feels freedom when the old man flies off the horizon that shows the selfishness of people.