Question: (Very Old Man with Enormous Wings) How Does the Story Work with the Theme of Suspending Disbelief?

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In the story ‘A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings’ there is a constant theme of suspending disbelief. Firstly, the story is about Pelayo and his wife Elisenda, who find an old man with wings in their courtyard and believe he is a lonely castaway. It is not until they talk to their neighbor who tells them that they he is an Angel who is on its way for the sick child.

Immediately as soon as we find out that this creature may be an Angel, we start to make interpretations of the character. From our experiences in life and references to the bible, etc. we immediately stereo type this angel. Normally, you would expect a beautiful, perfect creature, with perfect wings. However, it is in the second paragraph when this character is described to be “dressed like a ragpicker. There were only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth, and his painful condition of a drenched great-grandfather...” His wings are then described as “huge buzzard wings, dirty and half-plucked, were forever entangled in the mud.” We are already confused by the fact that our interpretation of an Angel is clearly very different to this Angel in the story and we immediately question the fact as to if he really is an Angel. The fact that people are acting rather normal about there being an ‘Angel’ also links back to this theme of suspending disbelief; as we accept the fact that there is an Angel even though it is very unrealistic and would normally be associated with fantasy, dream-like, not reality. The people in the story treat the old man as an oddity, but not as a supernatural oddity. They should really treat it as something beyond nature, but however treat it more like a freak of nature.

Further, people pay to come and visit him which would suggest that they want to come an visit what their interpretation of an Angel will be. However, they actually pay to go the Angel doesn’t make much of an impression on the Angel and decide to be cruel towards him and mistreat...
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