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A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

Gabriel García Márquez
Characters

The Old Man

Characters The Old Man

The old man, with his human body and unexpected wings, appears to be neither fully human nor fully surreal. On the one hand, the man seems human enough, surrounded as he is by filth, disease, infirmity, and squalor. He has a human reaction to the people who crowd around him and seek healing, remaining indifferent to their pleas and sometimes not even acknowledging their existence. When the doctor examines him, he is amazed that such an unhealthy man is still alive and is equally struck by how natural the old man’s wings seem to be. Such an unsurprised reaction essentially brings the “angel” down to earth, so any heavenly qualities the old man may have are completely obscured. However, the narrator seems to take the old man’s angelhood for granted, speaking of the “lunar dust” and “stellar parasites” on his wings, and the old man’s “consolation miracles,” such as causing sunflowers to sprout from a leper’s sores, seem genuinely supernatural. In the end, the old man’s true nature remains a mystery.