Written by Maude Bélanger


How does Garcia Marquez make an apparently fantastic event seem real and plausible?

   Readers 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.         

   The 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.

Work Cited