"The doctor who took care of the child couldn't resist the temptation to listen to the angel's heart, and he found so much whistling in the heart and so many sounds in his kidneys that it seemed impossible for him to be alive. What surprised him most, however, was the logic of his wings. They seemed so natural on that completely human organism that he couldn't understand why other men didn't have them too."I first came across Gabriel Garcia Marquez when I was thirteen. A friend told me about his most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude. I bought a copy, and immediately fell in love with the book. Now, almost seven years later, I still love Marquez’s work, and I’m doing my undergrad thesis on OHYS.
We discussed his short story A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings a couple of weeks ago in my Fiction class, and I loved it, too, mostly because it showcased Marquez’s trademark magic realism. The story is about Pelayo and Elesenda who find the very old man with enormous wings in the title. At first, they want to put him on a raft with food, but change their minds when the townspeople start paying to get a look at the old man.
The story shows us how so-called “freaks” are marginalized by society. The old man in the story is imprisoned in a chicken coop, and no one understands the language he speaks. I guess the same can be said about the people we consider “freaks” or “abnormal.” They're misunderstood, and imprisoned in the impressions we’ve formed about them, no matter how wrong.
A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings is a great introduction to the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and a great treat for his fans. The story can be read here.