Symbolism in Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

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  • Topic: Symbol, Symbolism, Table of mathematical symbols
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Stephen Jones
AP English
10-19-12
Chapter 6 essay

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is a cruel and gripping tale that shows how compassion is made more startling and significant when it is highlighted against such an existence of cruelty, abuse, and horrors. There are many symbols present in, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. Wings are symbolic of unchecked freedom of motion and Angels and yet he chooses to stay with the family as an act of compassion to change their lives. The angel symbolizes the unfamiliar. The angel is not just a celestial body but a foreign body, someone who stands out because they are different from society. Consequently, the angel draws attention, which causes the townspeople to react negatively. Using the angel as a symbol, Marquez shows how ignorance reveals the vulnerability of human nature often leading to uncivilized behavior. Marquez tells this story in the magic realist style, combining the homely details of Pelayo and Elisenda’s life with fantastic elements such as a flying man and a spider woman to create a tone of equal parts and fairy tale.  He uses the symbol of relentless rain to show the lifestyle in which everyone lived. From the beginning a negative atmosphere was symbolized. The story begins painting the setting and stating that, “the sea and the sky were a single ash grey” and “sands had become a stew of mud and rotten shellfish.” (Marquez 329). This picture of a negative atmosphere is painted and therefor a negative atmosphere is painted over the people. Another form of symbolism expressed throughout the story is through the contrast of the angel and the spider lady. The spider lady was a woman who had been changed into a spider for not listening to her parents. Although it never actually verifies the claim that the old man was an “angel”, he was a clear representation of a heavenly figure. He fell from the heavens, was misunderstood, and endured hardships on Earth.
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