A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Human Nature

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a modern Colombian author, explores both the natural and the supernatural in his short story, "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings." Although the plot revolves around the character of a winged man who has fallen to earth, the story's true focus is not on the angel, but on the people surrounding him. Throughout the story, Garcia Marquez takes an essentially negative view of human nature. According to the author, people not only lack logic, they demonstrate ignorance. Such mindlessness is bad enough, but what is far worse is the human characters' cruelty. The townspeople mistreat the angel simply because he is different. Garcia Marquez's worst indictment of humanity, however, is reflected in their stubborn refusal to appreciate the miraculous.

One way in which the author criticizes human nature is in his portrayal of mankind's intelligence. The story's characters, with the exception of the angel, lack the ability to think clearly. When Pelayo and Elisenda, his wife, first find the angel, they conclude that he must be a "castaway from some foreign ship wrecked by the storm" (634). They base this conclusion on the fact that he does not speak their own language. In order...

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