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Monday, August 21, 2006

A Very Young Student With Enormous Brains


What is the difference between "a very old man with enormous wings" and an "angel"? Is there an angel present in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's story? Explain your response.

35 Comments:

Blogger nathan a said...

The difference between a very old man with enormous wings and an angel is power. I think the man in the story was an angel who was meek enough not to use this power and thus became little more then a man with wings. I think one of the points of the story was that humans would not be able to tell the difference. The humans are never able to figure out the man’s origins because they treated him neither as and old man, nor as an angel, but as a creature. I think that if the angel had been treated as an old man then he would have revealed his true nature.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Lauren F. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Lauren F. said...

I agree with Nathan on the old man's treatment as a creature rather than a human or angel. An angel has authority and should be respected. They can influence others and have power over others. The old man had similar physical characteristics of an angel, but not 100%. This man was treated poorly, like an animal and was not respected very well by anyone. I think an angel was present inside of the old man, but it was weak and pretty much defenseless in all situations. People were in awe, but it was more of a circus then something truly amazing. The angel grew strength over time inside of the old man and he was finally strong enough to fly away.

6:44 PM  
Blogger EmilyL said...

Marquez, (author of 100 Years of Solitude), wrote in the literary style of magical realism, where magical fantasies are intertwined with fiction and contribute to an inability to "fix a definite meaning to events" (enotes.com). Thus, it is the reader’s choice to determine whether or not the man is actually an angel, or a mere mortal. I believe that he was in fact a mortal, but exhibited the characteristics and strengths of an angel.
Despite the ridicule and inhumane treatment he endures, he always practices patience. If viewed as a man, the fact that he has such a debilitating physical characteristic yet retains forbearance places him above most ordinary men.
By making the man with enormous wings a mortal, his fall and rise are more pronounced; his human fallacies make his return to the sky a greater event than if he were an angel. From the confines of a chicken coop, Marquez brings his character through a dark valley filled with demeaning and miserable conditions to the freedom of the skies, liberated from the torment he endured. There lies the difference between “a man with enormous wings” and an angel-while an angel would have the supernatural power to withstand ridicule, the lowly “man with wings” endures horrors and still emerges victorious.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Erin G said...

The difference between a man with wings and an angel, is that an angel comes with some sort of purpose or deed to help someone. I think that the man in the story is an angel, but he is just disguised as "a fragile man with enormous wngs." The angel is there to symbolize a time in the family's life in which they needed help. He was weak when he first "arrived," but gained his strength. The angel left once they were out of the "rut," in a way showing that the family was "flying" once more. The angel could also be there to act as a guardian to the family's child, who overcame his illness and grew up healthy. It seems ironic that the family didn't treat the angel with more respect after he brought good to them.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Spencer Z said...

Though I find Emily's use of background information helpful, I must disagree with her interpretation of the "Man with Enourmous Wings."
The protagonist, in my mind, is in fact an angel, and that in itself is what makes the story great. While Emily proffers that the man's mortality is what adds drama to the story, I suggest that his divinity is even more profound.
Marquez's greater comment on the ingenuous nature of humanity is represented through the fickle way that the people of the town treat him. They assume, as well as many others I'm sure, that due to his faults, he cannot be an angel. Like the stereotypical shining beacon, an angel must float down from the skies with all of the grace of a falling leaf. But I pose this question: Why must something divine be perfect? Is it not our faults as humans that makes us who we are? Couldn't this angel too, have his faults? It is therefore all the more powerful when he "rises from the valley" because he is an angel. His patience and determination in the story prove only to add to this tale of biblical proportions.
The reason that Marquez titled the story the way that he did is to illustrate humanity's view of the angel, rightly so as I believe his main point in writing the story was to show that which we disregard as people. What we are disregarding, in this instance, are the profound virtues of hanging on to hope and always viewing the world with a sense of wonderment.

7:46 PM  
Blogger jessicam said...

In response to Spencer's question about divine perfection, I believe that the only reason we, as humans, think that angel's have to be perfect is because we grew up being told that. It is a stereotype that has been passed down through generations. When we were children, our parents always told us about the perfect “angels.” An angel, or divine being, by definition is a 'perfect' being. (As seen from dictionary.com) To humans, it is like a role model of what we should be, or should want to be.
This leads me to the difference between a "very old man with enormous wings" and an "angel." The very old man is just a mortal, possibly attempting to be an angel, to help. In the short story it even mentions his 'remedies' for the sick to be ineffective. So, it is possible that the man is trying to present himself as a divine creature. He is trying to be the perfect being. The "angels" intentions are good as well as the actions. The man's actions may be good, but the outcome does not always turn out as planned. He is, in a sense, just mimicking what he wants to be.

8:09 PM  
Blogger EmilyL said...

I beg to differ with Spencer's statements, although they were quite interesting. I believe that Marquez purposefully awakens the reader to the idea of an angelic being through the villagers’ speculations and the man’s wings. Stereotypical angels are usually associated with goodness, benevolence, majesty, etc. It is the man's humanity that makes such traits truly profound. The winged man’s “angelic” behavior coupled with his human characteristics contrasts to the villagers’ attitudes and actions and explores the average and extraordinary possibilities found within human beings. The villagers represent the majority of humankind, content to remain on the same level. The “man with wings” stands for those who dare to be different, not in their outward appearance, (for he cannot help his wings,) but in spirit. The average person would retaliate against the treatment the winged man endures, but he perseveres, never deigning to stoop to a lower level. Thus, Marquez uses the mortality of the winged stranger to emphasize the “divine” possibilities found within mankind.

9:07 PM  
Blogger J Hunt said...

The difference between an old man and an angel, is simply that angels are immortal beings that have supernatural abilities. A normal man so old would not have survived a fall from the sky and would certainly have tried to at least talk to his captors. I think that there was an angel present in this story. The sick child was close to death and I think that in being caught outside the house, the angel was giving a second chance for life to the child. Either this of for an unknown reason, the angel may have been to weak to carry out its task of retrieving the child.
When the angel is kept locked up in the coop, he is mocked and laughed at by people all over the world. All this time he just sits and quietly appears to sleep. He could not have been a normal human because no human would have the strength or patience to endure that for so long and say nothing of it.
As the child grows stronger, he too regains his feathers and his energy. It is as though he is in some odd way connected to the child. Perhaps he was in fact the childs guradian angel. No matter what the puropose in his appearance, I believe that the old man with wings was indeed an angel.

6:01 AM  
Blogger OfAThousandSuns said...

In my mind, the difference between an angel and an old man with enourmous wings is that angels have power, like Nathan said. I also think angels have a purpose or deed, perhaps to look out for someone. But one question that I thought of when writing this was "does an angel have to have wings to be an angel?". That's where I agree with Spencer, in that it's the angel's mortality and faults that make him more powerful and I think, unique.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Chris B said...

I have to agree with Erins comment, because in all stories, religious or not, angels always have a purpose. Could it have been thoug that it was the angels purpose was to help the sick child, or was he merely a fallen angel from heaven? I believe the character in the story was an angel, though not the kind of angel that we would normally envision.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Monique R said...

The difference between the very old man with enormous wings and an angel is what a person's opinion of what an angel is. In some people's minds are descriptions and ideas of what an angel should be, and that may or may not match the description of the old man with enormous wings.

So to answer the question, I think that the idea of the old man with enormous wings being an angel is completely up to the reader. I'm not sure if this is what Gabriel Garcia Marquez wanted, but it works for me.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Milt G said...

I agree with Nathan and Lauren that the difference between an angel and an old man is the power he has and the way he is treated. The old man is treated at first with respect by the people who find him. However, when they put him on display for all the world to see he has no respect. People just treat him as something with the same worth as a traveling show. With the priest telling people that the man is not an angel it does help him get any more respect than he already does. When the woman who was turned into a spider comes to town all the people go to see her instaed because she talks with them and is more interesting. They go to a spider woman rather than an angel just because she is more interesting to talk to.

10:23 AM  
Blogger christine b. said...

I agree with Spencer in that the "very old man with enormous wings" is actually an angel. How do we know that an angel is a perfect being, according to the dictionary definition, considering very few, if any, living people have actually seen angels? Like Jessicam said, we grew up with certain stereotypes for what an angel should be so how do we know if these stereotypes are wrong or not? There are many different types of people so how can we be sure that there are not different types of angels?

10:25 AM  
Blogger kyle n said...

I think the difference between the old man and an angel is how people view each of them. Many would see an old man as a fragile mortal, ready to break at any second. On the other hand, an angel is viewed as an immortal, one who's wings can wheather any storm. I think the main idea of the story is that many things are not as they seem, and that one should be wary of things that they do not understand.

10:25 AM  
Blogger kaitlinb said...

The old man with enormous wings came when the boy was so sick, and when he did come the boy felt better. This led me to believe that the man was an angel and as far as anyone knows, angels come in all forms. The child and the man got sick with chicken pox at the same time, and got better alike as well.
An angel may have more power than a regular old man would, but maybe this man did and it was not apparent to the outside world.
Power shows in different forms and I believe that the angels powers were to heal the boy and his mitreatment by the family and those around him may have been a way to watch over the boy. Maybe his disguise was an old man to watch and heal the boy. In this story the old man and the angel are one in the same in my mind.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Jennifer W said...

The difference between a very old man with enormous wings and an angel is their abillities. The very old man was hurt when he came to Pelayo, he was injured and appeared dead. An angel is not mortal and would not show the pain that the old man did. The old man needed time to recover and his wings needed repair, but an angel, as far as stereotypes go, would be healed in no time.
An angel has the duty to watch over someone and the old man really didn't have a purpose except to retrieve the child.

10:26 AM  
Blogger shannon a said...

The difference between an angel and a man with wings is power as nathan said. I feel that the man with wings could represnt an angel in the ordinary people's eyes. They were going through hard times and needed someone to help them with their troubles. When the man with wings came they wanted to believe that he was angel so badly that that is the way they treated him. I believe that each person has a purpose and the purpose of the man with wings was to help people find their own purpose.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Natalie M said...

I agree with lauren in that the angel was within the man with wings. what if everyone has some sort of angel inside them and his was just experssed by wings. just a thought. he could be just like anyone of us a normal human being but because of the angel inside him he sprouted wings. at the end of the story he pretty much gets up and leaves. he, as everyone else does, has a purpose. when he left his purpose was filled and that chapter in his life was closed. what his purpose was??? you can decide. but i think that he represents each one of us, in the way that we each have a purpose to fufill.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Anoel said...

I agree with Spencer in that the "Man with Enormous Wings" is an angel. Although the angel is displaying many weak and human-like qualities, this angelic being stays calm and patient through all of the disgusting conditions he is fourced to withstand. I do not recall one point in the story where he was cruel to or mistreated his human charactors. Imagine that you were in position. I know I would not be quiet and calm. Only a divinity, broken and disgraced as he is, would handle the situation the way the "old man" did.

10:26 AM  
Blogger ryan f said...

In Marquez' story, I believe that the very old man with wings is not an angel. The mythological creature in this short story did not have the power or praise that an actual angel may get, rather he was looked down upon. Because of angel's angelic qualities, the old man was not an angel. The author describes his wings as dirty and half missing. An angel would not have these physical qualities seeing as it is sent from heaven.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Sarah P said...

I think that there may be a little bit of each present. He obviously is an old man, but he also has some power to him. He has will power, to re-teach himself how to fly, but i think because he is so old it took him some time to build up the strength to try and fly again. So its not that he is most definatly not an angel, its that he may be a little bit of both. Depending on how you look at him, and his features.

10:26 AM  
Blogger erinl said...

The difference between a very old man and an angel is not only power, but the ability to make mistakes. Angels cannot make mistakes because they are created to help other people and to watch over them. Man, however, can make mistakes so they can look to the angels for help. I think the author puts the question of whether or not the man is an imposter or an angel because he probably wants to show the reaction of the people to change, or someone knew. In this story, the man is treated horribly and we never really find out if the man was an angel or not. I believe he was an angel because their child was ill before he came, and during his stay, the child was healed. If the people would have been nicer to him, maybe we would have found out if he was a man or an angel.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Kelly O said...

I like what Jessica was saying about an angel being a perfect being. We all grew up being told that angels were these perfect beings who could just fly gracefully down from heaven. It is human nature to strive for perfection, so the very old man may have just put on wings to try to be like an angel. Maybe he just wanted a better more perfect life. He did not get the better life in the story because he was treated like a creature, but then at the end he succeeded in flying away.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Megan D said...

The difference between A very old Man with enormous wings and an angel starts with the appearance. The old man may have been an angel but no one would have known that. When the people of the town see him they come to mock him. They do not respect him like they would an angel. The only quality that resembled an angel was his patience. He was never angered by the people that came to see him and laugh at him. That was the only thing that made him seem to be more than a human to the people of the town. If the people had seen him as an angel, or what they thought an angel would look like, then they might have been more inclined to treat him like an angel.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Nicole E said...

The difference between a very old man with enormous wings and an angel is the image that is brought up into a human's mind. An angel is mainly thought of as powerful and majestic, as previously said by several others, whereas an old man with wings is thought of as almost weak, even with his enormous wings.
So, is there an angel present in Gabriel Gargie Marquez's story? An angel, to me, is not defined as a particular being or spirit, but a person or "something" that brings a feeling of amazement or selfworth. The man with wings in this story is portrayed in so many ways, to so many different individuals. An angel? Or just a being that happens to bring a special feeling to the people touched by his presence?

10:28 AM  
Blogger BessieS said...

I agree with nathan that the difference between and angel and the old man with Enormous wings is power. But I think that the man with wings in the story was an angel because of how he reacted to how he was being treated. When he first came to the house and the baby was sick, I think the angel had some part in him getting better. Throught the story there were moments when the only person who did appreciate the angle was the baby, and the baby trusted the angel. I think that just like people the angel had faults which was part of what made him so incrediable. At the end of the story when the wife watches him fly away I think she realizes that he is and angel because she can't stop watching him with amazement until he is out of sight.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Jordyn S said...

I think that the difference between a very old man with enormous wings and an angel is simply a title. As Emily said it should be left up to the reader to decide for themselves. Given the title of an angel would not necessarily make a creature more or less powerful, nor would simply having enormous wings. The actions performed by the individual are what matter. In Marquez's story, the very old man with enormous wings is treated as if he is less than even a mortal by being kept in a chicken coop but at the same time, his ability to be hurt and on the verge of death but more importantly his ability to recover from it and fly away in the end is truly extraordinary which leads me to believe the character is an angel.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Jessica K said...

The difference between a very old man with enormous wings and an angel is the fact that an angel has a purpose and has the power to make miracles. We never really knew if the old man had a purpose or not. Most of the villagars just assumed. However, he did show angel like qualities. He showed endurance towards the villagers treating him like an animal and he grew stronger everyday even in a bad situation. The old man with enormous wings I believe was an angel, but one that was weak and lost it's way.

10:30 AM  
Blogger JordanL said...

I agree with nathan in the fact that an angel comes with a purpose. I think the angels was coming for the familys sick child but was too weak to get him and was confined to a cage by the boys family. Since he was weak and old he stopped sticking up for himself and merely became a man with enormous wings. I enjoyed JordanH's blog an the idea of the boy and the angel being connnected as in the boy getting better as well as the angel.

10:30 AM  
Blogger mackenzieL said...

I think there is an angel present in Gabriel Garcia Marques's story because of his "devine quality" of patience that no human or other creature from this earth could ever have. However, what I find interesting is that this angel does not hold the "look" of an angel that we have come up with, and that with this "look" the angel makes the humans have a sort of connection with them even when he has wings and speaks a different language. The difference between the old man with enormous wings and an angel was what our stereotyped idea of how one should be.

10:32 AM  
Blogger clay w said...

The difference between a very old man with enormous wings and an angel is glory. An angel is glorious and powerful. The old man was weak, frail, and broken. Was he an angel? Perhaps at one point before the time of the story he was. He could have been an angel long ago and was now nothing but a banished, fallen angel from heaven. He could have been a glorious and mighty angel once a long time ago but in the story he was just an old, frail, weak, and destroyed man with massive wings. He had nothing left- no motivation, no passion, and no will to live. In the story, the old man was not an angel.

6:24 PM  
Blogger emilee p said...

I agree with Emily in the fact that man is a mere mortal. I think that he is sent, or simply appears in the small city to bring a "message" to the people. Whether, the "angel" or the people know it, he brings great changes to their lives and when his task is accomplished, he simply flies away. As Mackenzie said, the main difference of a man with wings and an angel is the stereotype of what an angel is thought to be. This may be another way the "angel" accomplishes his purpose. He contradicts everything the people expect. Overall I believe the man is mortal, yet he still has just as much meaning, and bring just as much change as an angel.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Alyssag said...

I believe that the man in the story is an angel. On the outside, he appears worn, tattered, and old, but if you look at what blessings he has brought to Elisenda and Pelayo, like fortune, fame, and of course, their sons health, really on the inside, he is an angel. I think the title really says something about how the people in this story percieved him. What they saw literally was "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings", but failed to look past this. I think that if they would have not treated this man like an alien to society, but kindly, then the angel would appear before their eyes.

8:17 PM  
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6:34 AM  

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