The Old Man with Broken Wings

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This story is written in a style which is called magical realism. What does that mean? Some writers like to create moments when what passes for reality crosses paths with magic in order to challenge our assumptions. Other writers simply expand reality to a size large enough to include myth, magic and other extraordinary natural phenomena. This second sort is the one we are dealing with in this story. When the Old Man falls to earth there are many different opinions about just what he is, but no one doubts his existence. It is not impossible in the world of this play to believe in mystical beings dropping from the sky. On the following page is a short list of books that might acquaint you with magical realism and Latin American culture.

At first it may seem to us that Pelayo is cruel to the angel, but think about this. What would you do, or not do, to feed and clothe and care for the people you love dearly? The people seem selfish with the angel's feathers, but how far would you be willing to go at another's expense to get yourself a miracle? The Function of Symbolism in 'A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings' In Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" an angel symbolizes the unfamiliar. The angel is not just a celestia l body, but a foreign body-someone who stands out as being different from the rest of society. Consequently, the angel draws attention to civilized society's reaction, ergo the community's reaction within the story when it confronts him. Using the angel as a symbol, Marquez shows how ignorance reveals the vulnerability of human nature often leading to uncivilized behaviour. At the very outset, civilized society is shown to be unenlightened and uncharitable towards the unfamiliar. Instead of offering a helping hand, Pelayo, a representative of the civilized society, runs away in terror from the angel who "is an old man, a very old man, lying face down in the mud" (487) and totally helpless. The angel is falsely accused of being a "fugitive survivor of a celestial conspiracy" (488) . Later, when the chicken coop collapses, the angel is not welcome in the house. The people... Synopsis: A mute winged man (an angel, perhaps?) is discovered by a poor couple in the Caribbean. They put him in their chicken coop. Word spreads and soon their house is a major tourist stop, visited by crowds of pilgrims and curiosity seekers, and surrounded by a constant carnival. An interesting film, but nothing special. Cuba/Italy/Spain (English subtitles), color, 1988, 90 minutes. Director: Fernando Birri One night, during a heavy rainstorm, an old man washes ashore in front of the home of Pelayo and Elisena, a very poor couple living in the Caribbean (possibly Cuba). The man is very old, weak, mute, and has very large wings! Could he be an angel? They put him in their fenced-in chicken coop. Word quickly spreads that he is an angel, and crowds of curiosity seekers and religious pilgrims appear. The local priest comes by to denounce him as a fraud , but nobody pays attention. Pelayo and Elisena realize that there's money in this for them, and begin to charge admission.

Shortly thereafter they learn that the "angel" might be a mere mortal. However, they cover it up, as they don't want to lose their new business. An amusement park/carnival develops in their neighborhood, serving the crowds that come to see the angel. This attracts hucksters and other shady types. Pelayo and Elisena must deal with the changes this brings in their life, and the story continues from there. This film provides some interesting insights into human nature, though the insights are often cruel. The angel is alternately adored and abused by the crowds. A blind woman enters the chicken coop, singing in a high pitched voice, and demanding a miracle (not asking, demanding). She doesn't specify the miracle she wants. When a miracle is not immediately delivered, she starts to beat the angel with her cane! This...
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