The Symbolism of “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”
An allegory is a method in which characters or events symbolize ideas and concepts; it is a way of explaining concepts which cannot be easily explained, by telling a story which has a deeper meaning. The underlying meaning of an allegory has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas, like charity, greed, or envy. With this in mind, symbolism is the art of using an object or a character to represent an abstract idea; therefore, an action, person, place, or word can all have a symbolic meaning. When authors want to suggest a certain idea, they can also use symbolism to hint at it, rather than just blatantly say. In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the short story explores human nature in regard to people judging others by his or her surface features, thereby determining whether he or she has the right of be treated with respect. The story tells of Pelayo and his wife Elisenda, who find an old man with wings in their courtyard, so the couple attempt to communicate with the old man but are unable to since he speaks in a different language. Pelayo locks the angel in a chicken coop. And soon thereafter a new attraction comes to town, as a woman who disobeyed her parents when she was young, and transformed into a spider, now tells her misfortunes to the audience. Meanwhile, no longer trapped in the chicken coop, the angel is free to roam around the house until one day he leaves the house and flies away. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is allegory for immigration with the “old man” symbolizes a group of people who immigrate to a place from far away only to be badly treated, whereas the “spider woman” symbolizes the immigrants desire for people’s understanding, through communicating one’s physical description and action. Marquez uses the “old man” to represent the immigrant who looks totally distinct from the...
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