An Outlook on A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

Wings are seemingly a symbol of power, freedom, and spirituality. In many cultures around the world, wings are associated with angels and other divine beings.

When an old man shows up in a couple’s backyard, they do not know what to do. He attracts neighbors and strangers alike who want to glimpse the supernatural being. Also, many are looking for a miracle. The short story of a very old man with enormous wings takes us through a story of a man with wings in a small village.

The story ‘ A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is a tale of magic realism. It follows the life of a haughty angel, a supernatural creature in a small backyard. The short story has a powerful lesson for humankind.

Here is a look into the short story, the plot, and a simple literary analysis.

A Very Old man with Enormous Wings’ Plot

The story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel García Márquez tells the tale of a winged man who shows up at a poor family in a small Colombian village. The family takes the old man in, but he is not what they expected. He is dirty and smells bad, and he doesn’t seem to communicate. The family wonders if he is an angel.

As the days go by, more and more people come to see the old man. Some even bring sick relatives, hoping the old man will heal them. However, the old man does nothing special. He just sits there, day after day.

A very old man with enormous wings
Courtesy of Pexels

Father Gonzaga, the local priest comes to witness a very old man with enormous wings. He even writes to Rome about the ‘angel. However, Rome was not very serious about the ancient man. They seemed to doubt he was an angel. They thought perhaps he was a Norwegian with wings. They seem not to believe in the magical creature.

People from the neighborhood think he can heal them. They gather around all the time and soon get bored with him. He becomes weak and ill during winter. He may not make it, but as the winter ends he heals. More feathers grow on his wings, and he looks brighter and healthier with the sun out. He seems to enjoy the sun and does not move for a while.

One day Elisenda is in the kitchen preparing. Terrestrial winds gather and give the old man a boost. His story ends with him flying away into the horizon. Elisenda is happy that the man is no longer her headache but out in the world where he belongs. Elisenda watches as the man disappears into an imaginary dot.


Human Truth

The story features so much human truth. It reflects on a magical being and how trying to make sense o the human world. The stray dying man brings some changes in the family of the newborn child. The old man has a supernatural virtue though he is sickly and cannot help himself.

The human species can be mean and inconsiderate.

  • The old man lives in a chicken coop despite being sick.
  • Father Gonzaga does not offer the man anything.
  • Strangers throw the old man food rather than feed him
  • They also force him to eat mothballs.

The people turn the pitiful man into a carnival attraction. They put him in deplorable conditions behind iron bars where he is in view, and they can feed him by throwing food at him. Elisenda and Pelayo guide him with long brooms to avoid touching him.


The man and the family that takes him live in deplorable conditions. Pelayo and Elisenda cannot afford to take their sick child to the doctor. They also do not have a decent house to live in. The man makes them enough money when his wife suggests they charge people coming to see the celestial conspiracy.


Everyone around the angel did not take the time to treat him with dignity. They throw things at him and do not have time to listen to his incomprehensible dialect. They do not nurse him despite signs of ill health. Also, Pelayo and his wife treat him like a circus animal and place him in a cage. We do not know much about the man except that he is a very old man with enormous wings.

Magical Realism

Magical realism is a literary style common with many works around the time. It showcases some beliefs and thoughts that defy logic. People in the village believe that the man with wings is an angel. Yet, the man is old and sickly and is living in pitiful conditions. His wings are half-plucked. They cannot hold their weight in the air. Gabriel Marquez is the king of magical realism.

The setting for the Shorty Story

When reading “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” it is important to keep in mind the cultural context of the short story. The story is set in Latin America, and many symbols and themes are specific to that region. However, there are universal themes in the story.

Wings represent freedom. They represent the ability to fly away from our problems and start fresh. In the story, the old man’s wings represent his ability to escape from the poverty and misery of his life. He can fly away from his problems, but they ultimately bring him down.

Wings can also represent power. In many cultures, wings are associated with angels and other divine beings. They are a symbol of strength and authority. In the story, the old man’s wings represent his power over the people in the village. He can control them with his words and his presence. However, this power goes away when he is no longer an angel.

Closing Thoughts on A man with Enormous Wings

Lastly, wings can represent spirituality. In many cultures, wings are a connection to the divine. They represent our ability to reach for the stars and achieve our highest potential. Also, they represent his spiritual connection to the world. He can see things that other people cannot see. However, people eventually find a new muse, the spider woman. 

“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is a complex story with several interpretations. What do you think the old man’s wings symbolize? Was he an angel, or was he just a normal man with wings? And what do wings symbolize in our own lives? Do they represent power, freedom, and spirituality? Or are they simply something that we dream about having one day?

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