Written by Maude Bélanger
How does Garcia Marquez make an apparently fantastic event seem real and plausible?
can easily say that the short story “A Very Old Man with enormous Wings”, by
Gabriel Marquez, is a magical realistic story. Magic realism is a literary genre
in which magical elements appear in an otherwise realistic setting. Gabriel
Marquez makes apparently fantastic events seem real and plausible, therefore the
reader doesn’t know what to think about what they are reading. First of all,
the diction chosen by the author easily convinces the reader to believe in the
events. Then, the reaction from the characters helps to make the reader feel
that the events could really happen.
Many of the terms used throughout the text really make the story a believable
one. When the author describes the bugs eating the angel’s wings, it doesn’t
leave the reader with the impression that there could be anything fantastic in
the story: “The hens pecked at him, searching for the stellar parasites that
proliferated in his wings” (545). Gabriel Marquez uses vulgar, cruel and evil
language which is contrary to the peaceful image of the angel. So, even though
the events may seem magical and heavenly, the way the story is told leaves the
reader with no doubt of its realism. The author describes the angel as “a man
with wings” and “a circus animal”. These terms have a strong impact on the
reader’s interpretation of what the picture of the angel really symbolizes.
Furthermore, the doctor describes the angel’s wing as being “so natural on
that completely human organism that he couldn’t understand why other men
didn’t have them too.” (547). The reader is never allowed to believe in the
magical side of the angel, therefore it makes the story seem real and credible.
reaction of the people towards the angel diminishes the emphasis of the magic
seen in the story, and makes the events seem realistic. The author describes
Pelayo as “frightened by the nightmare” (543) when he first notices the
angel in the mud. Then, he throws him in the pen with the hens, just like an
animal. He treats him in an awful way. The reader can notice, right from the
beginning, the negative view that humans have of the angel. Readers can
understand that the unknown makes people scared, and that they might feel like
this because of this situation. Another realistic reaction from the family
members is to start asking for money in order to become more comfortable
financially. By the end, Elisenda is dressed in a fashionable way, and this is
only because of the money they made from the angel. The neighbourhood throws him
left-overs to eat, pays to see him, and wants him to do miracles. Just before he
flies away, he becomes an annoyance for Elisenda. At this point, her opinion
could also stand for the opinion of people from her neighbourhood. She even
shouts that “it was awful living in that hell full of angels.” (547). The
negative view of the angel brings the reader down-to-earth, therefore makes all
the events of the story believable.
In conclusion, this magic realistic story was written in a way so that readers
can question if the events are true or not. The author uses the appropriate
vocabulary to make the reader believe in the realism of the story. Furthermore,
the way character are, acts, react and think are signs that readers can rely on
to acknowledge the story as being a realistic one.
Pickering, James H. (Ed). Fiction 100: An Anthology of short
fiction, 10th ed. New Jersey:Person Education, 2004.