A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings Summary

The short story, A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings tells the story of Pelayo and his wife Elisenda, who find an old man with wings in their courtyard after killing crabs in a rainstorm. Pelayo gets his wife, and they try to communicate with him unsuccessfully. They eventually get their neighbor woman, who informs them that the old man is an angel. She tells them that it was on its way for their sick child.

They put the angel in the chicken coop, and during the middle of the night their child's fever breaks. They decide to let him go, but when they return to the courtyard at dawn the entire community has arrived to see the angel. Father Gonzaga soon arrives, declaring that the old man is a fake. He promises to get the real truth from the higher courts of the church. The news of the angel spreads like wildfire, and the courtyard soon resembles a marketplace. Elisenda then has the idea of charging a 5 cent admission fee for seeing the angel; they are soon rich. Rome takes it time deciding on whether the old man is an angel, and while waiting for their verdict, Father Gonzaga works desperately to restrain the crowd.

The crowd leaves on its own, however, when a carnival boasting a Spider-Girl arrives in town. Spectators are allowed to question her, and she tells them how she was turned into a tarantula one night for disobeying her parents. This appeals to the masses more than an old winged man who ignores the people around him. Thus, the curious crowds soon leave the angel for the spider, leaving Pelayo's courtyard deserted.

Pelayo and Elisenda build a mansion with all the money they have accumulated. They neglect the angel and prevent their child from getting to close to the chicken coop. He soon becomes a part of their life, and they no longer fear him. The child visits him often. After a while the chicken coop breaks, and they allow him to move around their house, although it causes Elisenda much distress. He gets increasingly frail and sickly, and they fear that he will die. He recovers, however, and one day Elisenda watches him fly away, to her great relief.