13 Oct. 2015
Battle Between Beliefs: Meanings We Choose to Seek
Gabriel Garcia Marquez presents two similar symbols in A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. The central symbol within this short story is an old man dressed as a rag-picker with enormous wings. In contrast, the alternative symbol is a Frightful Tarantula Woman the size of a ram. Both are mythical creatures that people are unsure what to do with. Both of these symbols are given blind faith by the people even though to know little about either. The author uses magical creatures, with human characteristics, to show the desire of humans looking for meaning in what they do not fully understand.
We are initially introduce to the man with wings when Gabriel says, “…it was and 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” (417). We are also informed they are unable to communicate with this old man when he answers in an incomprehensible dialect with a strong sailor’s voice (418). This old man is completely helpless and because he is unable to communicate with anyone he is deemed untrustworthy. The neighbor woman then offers her own perspective saying, “He’s an angel. He must have been coming for the child, but the poor fellow is so old that the rain knocked him down” (418). The villagers began forming conjectures: He should be named mayor of the world, be promoted to the rank of five-star general in order to win all wars, implant on earth a race of winged wise men who could take charge of the universe (418). Villagers are looking for enlightenment for this heavenly figure they view him to be. Cripples pulled out feathers to touch their defective parts and the most merciful threw stones at him, trying to get him to rise so they could see him (419). Everyone is seeking answers including Father Gonzaga. The priest believed the man to be an impostor when he did not…