Kakos' 6th Hour

Reactions and comments from my sixth hour Honors American Literature class.

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My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

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.

39 Comments:

Blogger HUH? said...

The very quiet character, the old man with very enormous wings, is not the angel you would have in mind. He IS an angel with a different physical appearance. But whether others believe he is an angel or not, the very old man brought comfort to the unfortunate family of Pelayo.

With patience the family was granted fortune because of the old man. His appearance may have decieved Pelayo's thought of the old man, but was changed at the end when the family relized what this man brought to the family. The very old man was the angel.
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3:11 PM  
Blogger Olivia C. said...

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's short story, "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings", is defined as magic realism. This specific type of writing is defined as one that, “leads to no clear moral or simple truth; it presents a rich and vivid world of magical possibilities, while frustrating and complicating the reader's efforts to fix a definite meaning to events.” I found this interesting as the story allows for the question of whether the man is truly an angel, or rather an elderly man weakened by his overshadowing wings to arise. However, the story seems to allow room for inference, while also confusing the reader as to whether the author intended for the spiritual being to possess true power that a customary angel might present. The elderly man in the story seems to be one that is held captive by his callous wings, which rather vindicate his role as an angel. However the man with wings differs largely from that of an assumed angel, as he is burdened, rather than enhanced by his wings. His aura reflects that of one who seems helpless, disallowing for the angel to bless those he must surely be presumed upon to do so. Although the man may not be a valid and preordained angel, the angel in the story seems to arise from that of the woman presented in the carnival as she has been cursed to be a spider for her wrongdoings. The spider’s act causes the validity of the man’s powers to be set aside, and the man’s presence to be disregarded. This allows not only for the elderly man with wings to rest and escape the torment of the world, but also causes the in taker Pelayo and his wife to notice their mistreatment. Ultimately, the spider caused for the old man to regain his strength and prestige and rise again to his glory as an angel.

3:46 PM  
Blogger HUH? said...

I agree with of what you have written above, Olivia. I agree this story has "magic realism" but also containing a fable with some moral truth to it. It does have some obscure "people" like the girl who was struck by lightning, but besides the fact, I strongly believe the author Gabriel Garcia Marquez was inteading to portray a moral.

Don't judge a person by his/her physical features.

I did do a bit of research here and there and discovered this was really intended for a younger audience or reader. I sat down and tried to think like a 5th grader. I concluded that this story was simply about not judging anyone at first sight and not to strike down anyone whom you do not understand. The very old man with wings appearred to be an ordinary man with a disfunction of having wings. Later as we know the man with wings was more than this, he was an angel sent to help the devestated family.

4:30 PM  
Blogger allison n said...

I agree mostly with Dan. I believe that this "man" was an angel, but he just didn't fit the textbook description of one. However, I disagree with Olivia. She said the spider causes Pelayo to notice that they were treating the angel badly and cared. I suppose they cared that he would die, but I felt it was only because they didn't want a dead angel lying around. The parts that most confused me in this story was how Pelayo and Elisenda mistreated the angel, viewed him as a nuisance and were relieved when he left because “…he was no longer an annoyance in her life…” While I was reading about how they continually mistreated him, I kept thinking he would repay the family by killing their child or something and Pelayo would learn his lesson. I suppose revenge is what an old man would do, but patiently accepting the abuse is the work of an angel.

5:50 PM  
Blogger corey c said...

I believe that the old man with wings was an angel, in some form at least. To me an angel would hold something that none of us can, this is his infinite patience, forgiveness, and love. So far i have not heard anyone mention his forgiveness, which suprises me because of the qualities of an angel(forgiveness being one of them). I noticed that the angel never once mistreated a person, instead he ignored the rudeness and continued with his usual habits. instead of showing a discust for the people he refused to let it bother him. He showed a complete humility by expecting nothing of the characters, he did not expect a room, neither clothing, and most of all did not expect love or care. Instead he tried his best to show love by performing miracles, which were viewed as bad. The miracles to me were blessings, what if the daises on he leprocy were to mean something to the man? For example to see the beauty which the world holds and not the beauty of himself. I believe that unless you have faith in the truth you cannot understand the presense or meaning of an angel, much like the characters in the story. I find the man was an angel, but the unbelief blinded the characters spiritual eyes and caused them to only see a man with wings. I believe he was an angel, but his meaning was unknown because of the disbelief of the characters. I also agreed with what "huh?" said about it teaching a lesson. Life is always easiest when instead of analyzing we accept, to have a childlike wonder without being childish.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Alexandra H said...

I agree with Dan and Allison beacause I think that the man was an angel but he was not a "new" angel in all his glory. I think that maybe he had done something like this before and been mistreated, so he "didn't fit the textbook description of one", like Allison said. Like Dan said, the angel appears as an old man, but we later can see that he is an angel because of certain things that happen to him. I also agree with Dan when he says that whether or not the man was an angel, he brought comfort, and prosperity, to the family.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Christine D said...

First of all, i agree with what corey had to say about the amzing qualities an angel posses, and that no matter how hard a mortal human tries, we will never be able to control ourselves in such a passive way or forgive one another completely. I think that as high school students,we should be able to relate to this story more than anyone else. By just looking around us, or listening to stories from other schools around the nation, it is easy to find a student who, just like the old man, can sometimes be treated as a circus act (they are picked on and made fun of). We also hear the unfortunite endings some of these stories come with, such as the students who look back on high school and thinking "man am i glad to be out of there" or kids dropping out or even worse, school violence. As mortal teenagers it is usually hard for us to forgive eachother as completely as the angel is miracoulously able to forgive the people who mistreat him. I am guessing that every one of us has held some sort of a grudge against a class mate, friend, family member, or teacher (etc.)at some point in our lifes, and therefore can learn a very valuable lession from the angel. Just like we can learn a lesson, i think that the family in the story learned a lesson from the angel. What i found interesting is that in other blogs people have mentioned how the angel gave the family prosperity and happiness, i agree with them, but i also feel that the angel gave the more, a lesson learned. The angel recovered not after the family had money, but after they gave him the charity of a blanket and a more proper housing, the shed. I think the angel was trying to teach them the lesson of the old hospitality rule, though i am not sure why the angel chose that particular family. Perhaps it was something that they had done in the past?

PS sorry this is long

7:22 PM  
Blogger katie_r said...

I suppose the difference is in how you view the man/angel. You can view him in a bad way, like this man is different from us, why is he like this? Or you can view it in a good way, like this angel has had his pride striped and he is helpless, but was once a powerful being, and is still a great and honorable angel none the less. Which ever way you think of it, he is still the same man/angel, it only changes the way you react towards him and the way you treat him.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Andie R said...

It all depends on perspective. For instance, an atheist would probably not see the man as an angel. A Christian, on the other hand, would probably see him as an angel. One's personal beliefs would be the deciding factor in whether he or she sees the man as an angel. Furthermore, if a person can be changed into a spider in this story, would it really be so far-fetched to believe that perhaps he had just been born with wings?

One of the definitions of an angel is "a guardian spirit or guiding influence; one who manifests goodness, purity, and selflessness". In those terms I do not believe he would be an angel. He did not do a very good job at showing people to be good or selfless. In fact, just the opposite happened; his arrival caused the couple to abandon their morals in favor of monetary gain.

Another definition of angel is "a typically benevolent celestial being that acts as an intermediary between heaven and earth..." The old man could potentially be an angel when angel is defined in these terms. If he was indeed coming for the sick child, as the wise woman suggested, then it would make sense he was an angel. There is no solid evidence that he was coming for the child, though, so once again it all depends on perspective and your own personal definition of an angel.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Michelle S said...

I find it interesting that quite a few of the previous commenters agree that an angel is indeed present in "A Very Old Man with Wings". I do not think it matters whether this old man is an angel or not. The central conflict of the story involves the mistreatment of this old man and indifference shown by his captors. The fact that the man has wings is merely a detail; the wings could have been replaced by an extra pair of arms and the conflict would remain the same. However, like Andie said, personal beliefs can influence one's opinion on the identity of the man.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Amy O. said...

I agree with what Michelle said. It hardly makes difference whether the old man is an angel or not. How the people treat this man (either an angel or simply very different)is a reflection of the community. The lesson learned doesn't lie in the conclusion that this man was an angel or not, it lies in the town's reactions to the man. While he was extremely different from everyone else, the truth is that he was still a human being and should accordingly be treated as one. Being treated as a freak show and later as a household pet is no way to treat an old man who is close to death.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Alexaaaaa said...

The way this old man with wings was treated reminds me of many struggles in America in that the old man's fey nature was almost dismissed by Pelayo's family until a haughty neighbor pointed it out to them. After this he was treated no better than a deformed cow. One woman's arrogance caused this, just as the arrogance of a white race caused a prejudice that still has not gone away. This leads to the theme of keeping childhood innocence as you grow. What makes this theme stick is the fact that a marvelous and helpless creature was made to suffer ultimately because he was different. It does not matter what definition of angel suits this old man, it just matters that the connection to wonder is there. Angel is a convenient term to use because most americans are able to relate to it.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Christine D said...

I must admitt, when first responding, i was influenced by the previous responses which viewed the old man as an angel. I still believe that his qualities atleast make him angel-like, if that makes sense, but after comments like michelle's and amy's I am seeing how the old man could be considered just a different human. Old man or "angel" i still believe that he had a great impact on the town and mostly the family through his lessons that he taught them, which we all can take something from.

9:16 PM  
Blogger HUH? said...

Andie is correct. It depends on the perspective of the reader. Maybe he or she was raised as a Budhist or a Muslim. They would understand the word angel as a different image. But I must remind you all that the short story was intended for children and to to be understood easily. Ironicly, I myself had a little trouble understanding the content in the short story. But when thinking in simple terms, the average child can understand the meaning of the story and has seen the "universal" image of the angel. Of course there are many people who have not but again, I believe this story was intended for those who understood.

Heres a question thats can have many answers but I'll bounce it off of anyone who would like to answer.

Did this short story have Christian values sewn into the content?

9:20 PM  
Blogger LindsayS said...

I would just like to start off with the fact that I never thought I would be discussing what makes an angel an angel.

I agree with Christine D. that he makes the family learn a lesson of hospitality towards other, even if they are not just like you. I also agree with Erin G. from 4th period when they said that an angel comes with “some sort of purpose or deed to help someone”. The angel helped the family that “housed” him with their sick child and helped get them money for a new house. Like Erin put, when he arrived he was weak like the family, he got better and the family got rid of their problems and then he left “showing that the family was "flying" once more”. Going off of this, the angel’s struggle with starting to fly parallels the family struggle and as his housing and comfort improves so does that of the family that “housed” him. I view him as an angel not just because he has wings but he did seem to have some form of “healing” power and patience that many people have mentioned before. I believe that no human can possess that kind of patience, especially when kids burn you with a branding iron to see if you are alive.

The last thing I would like to commit on is how the family assumed the man was an angel and because he was, stuck him in a chicken coop. That is very peculiar to me.

9:50 PM  
Blogger brianc said...

I agree with Dan's first blog regarding the "angel" actually being an angel. He, intentionally or not, helped out the family and the sick baby. All he had to do was be at the house, and the cash followed. So, whether or not he ment to, he became an angel for that family.

1:53 PM  
Blogger anam said...

I think that Dan and Allison did a great job on suming up what I thought the man-angel was in the short story, "A Man with Enormous Wings". A modern-day angel who does not fit the mold of what many people invision an angel to be.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Thomas_N said...

I think that it depends on the individual to decide whether the angel is real or if he is an imposter. To some people he can be looked upon as an angel such as for the family because it was because of his presence that got them money. To the people that came thinking he could heal them he was probably looked upon as an imposter since he was not able to heal him and he did not do anything.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Hannah S said...

I agree with Brian. Whether he meant to, this "angel" changed their lives for better. I believe that this man was indeed an angel, whether he really truely was, or if he was just a deformed man.

2:10 PM  
Blogger AaronW said...

I believe that the man truly was a angel, and that the only reason he didn't look majestic was he had just weathered a storm, and then he was thrown in a chicken coop for a long time. Like Dan has said in earlier posts an angel does not need to fit a certain mold. Obviously since the man WAS an angel so he lent a angelic prescense to the story.

2:10 PM  
Blogger ryanp said...

I also agree with Dan's statements regarding the angel. There is no way that he couldn't have been an angel becvause there are no other human lifeforms that have wings besides angels. However, I think that the angel did not come to the house for the purpose of helping the sick child. Like some others have said I think it was a complete coincidence that the angel ended helping the ffamily and the sick child.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Pieter O said...

Dan has a good point, again, how the "angel" helped out the family with what they wanted, money. They felt that they needed help, and it was given to them. However, like Andie said, it depends on the reader, and their perspective on religion. Like if miracles happen, and if so, how they happen, if there are angels, and if they would really be as forgiving as to let people do whatever they want with them.

2:10 PM  
Blogger christineT said...

I agree with Brian and Dan because I think the angel was there to help them. They had a sick child, who they thought the angel came to take away. I also think that it helped them treasure their sick child, they spent time with him, but also kept the "angel" away from him. When the family had learned a lesson and was finally nice to the "angel," the angel's time with them was done and he left.

2:10 PM  
Blogger KristinC said...

I like the point that Allison and Dan brought up. I find it very odd that all the people treat the angel so poorly. Here they are with an amazing gift and they treat it with the upmost disrespect. I think that the angel is truly an angel even though, like Allison said, he does not fit the stereotype. By not fitting the stereotype the angel is open and free to have a profound affect upon the family. He brings them wealth, which helps them take care of their son. In the end of the story I think the family is left with a greater appreciation of the angel. He appeared to be a nuisance but looking back he was a true blessing to the family.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Ryan S said...

I agree with both Dan and Brian in that he may not have been an angel literally. Although he helped the family out when he earned enough money being an attraction. So he helped just like an angel would if he was real. I think the old man was very diiferent from an angel in physical features. Although he had wings, he couldn't really fly and he was frail and not invinsible like angels are portrayed in real life. Lastly I couldn't believe the way he was treated after helping out the family so much, he basically saved your kid.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Logan J said...

I agree with Dan. I think that the angel wasn't what anyone would expect to be an angel, though the fact that he had wings hinted at his angelic persona. There is a lot of room for metaphors for the the real world in this story, but I disagree with Alexa about the racism idea. I related the angel to all the amazing people that are overlooked in the world due to their appearence, or other characteristics they can't always control.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Ryan B said...

In "a very old man with enormous wings," the old man, while not the kind of angel you would think of, was in many ways representatory of a traditional angel. The winged man in the story while weak and sulken accomplished the same feats as the symbol of a angel was supposed to.

2:13 PM  
Blogger nicci c said...

I find that "the very old man with enormous wings" was in fact an angel. No one who wasn't an angel would have been able to be so patient with people and not, in some way, fight back. Also, he did help out the family wether it was intentional or not. With him around the family they became richer and, more importantly, as soon as he arrived the child became well again. So, like many others have said, in one way or another, he wasa an angel for this family.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Tori S said...

I agree with what Lindsay and Christine have said about hospitality. The family that keeps the angel doesn't think that he has a purpose and he is a burden on them. The angel is there though, it seems, to teach them hospitality and then also patience. Their town comes and pokes and pulls at him but he stays still and doesn't get mad. When he feels satistfied he flies away and the lady has the patience to watch him fly until she can't see him anymore.

2:13 PM  
Blogger brian k said...

I agree that the man was an angel but I was a little confused about how a divine helper of god could be locked up in a chicken cage. Perhaps he could have escaped and instead saw that he was still helping the family even though he was caged up. Then when he healed up he saw that the family had vastly improved and went on his way.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Michelle S said...

I disagree that this old man is truly an angel. Ryan P brought up the point that no humans have wings, but humans do not turn into spiders either. I also disagree that the family was improved by the arrival of this man. It seems that after they got their money and did not need him anymore, they simply ignored him. They didn't treat him any better after he served their purposes.

4:27 PM  
Blogger matt l said...

I believe there was an angel present in the story. The angel certainly did not look like one, but that is how it was supposed to be. I think having the angel appear as a normal, everydaday human being with wings was part of some plan. If the man had looked all majestic and royal, then he would have been treated differently, like a king. The impact would have been much different. Instead, the angel looked weak and pitiful.THis way, the angel could help the family without causing to much controversy. THe angel was sent to help the family, and it was a success.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Aubry P. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Aubry P. said...

I think that the old man was an angel. Ryan P had a good point when he said he didnt think that the angel was sent there on purpose. I think that he would have at least known their language if he was sent to them. I think he was carried off his real course but once he was with the family, he couldn't help but bring them money and minorly heal some people. I think that once he grew his new wings in the end and leaves, he is going where he was sent to in the first place.

8:43 PM  
Blogger AaronW said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:05 PM  
Blogger AaronW said...

yeah so typing on the laptops in insanely hard, no more in class blogging for me.

Anyways, Michelle I think you bring up a valid point, but I disagree with you. Angels are not humans, so therefore they can have wings. I don't want to get this into a religous debate so i'll cut that off there.

Also, the family's situation WAS improved by the winged man. Would they have become wealthy with out the business the angel brought in? The answer is no, they would have continued to live in poverty. They directly profitted from the angel by treating him like a zoo animal, so their situation was changed by him.

Ryan brought up that he didn't think the angel was supposed to originally go to the family, but I also disagree with this. If he was in fact divine the angel went EXACTLY where he needed to be. The family that found him was impovershed and unhealthy, but when the angel left their fortunes had improved. Coincidence? No, nothing divine is ever coincidence. Everything is mapped an planned out ahead of time.

@ Aubry: Do you think that the angel would have helped the family more if he spoke their language? Consider what would have happened if he had been able to tell everyone what he really was, and would that help him accomplish his goals?

9:13 PM  
Blogger HUH? said...

Laptops can be hard to work with, but can be fun too.

I do agree with Aaron's explication. The man with wings is an angel. Although they describe him as a "man" with wings, this is merely a description from the character's point of view. As us readers read this passage, the rough description for a man with wings that we can relate to could only be an angel.

There also can be an argument made that the angel could've had gone to another destination but was hurt on the way, but because the family spared his life, the angel rewarded them. Aaron too says that the angel was meant to meet the family. I for one, must go with Aaron, not because the angel was divine, but because there was no evidence of another destination that angel could've gone to.

7:24 AM  
Blogger A_Nielsen said...

I think the 'old man with enormous wings" was an angel. Even though he did not appear as we probably thought an angel would look like, that doesn't mean he wasn't. I connected it with the exppresion, things are not always as they appear. And yes he was an angel present in the story because even though the way he tried to heal people was a bit unconventional, he tried. He tried to help people and make their lives easier.

8:28 PM  
Blogger HUH? said...

Yes, images can be misleading, but does portray a reason of why it was done in such fashion.

Another idea, that slammed me was when how the angel was found behind the courtyard. As described, "...it was an old man, a very old man, lying face down in the mud...his pitiful condition of a drenched great-grandfather..." The description here gave me a sense that this angel was a fallen angel. The face in the mud, sometimes a symbol of defeat, questioned me why an angel would show up to look so pitiful? Did the family help the angel even though, through all the so called suffering, the angel suffered? Was giving fortune to the family a gift from the angel? These variables became a possibility to the story's plot to me.

I may be reaching to far, but this idea gave me reason to believe that the man was a fallen angel.

8:53 PM  

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