A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings: Reading Response

To say that this passage is confusing would be an understatement. When I read through the first time I found myself not retaining anything that I had read. My eyes just rolled over the words with no intention of learning what the author was truly trying to convey. It wasn’t until I had read it for the third time that I started to get a bit of a grasp on the message.

The narrator of this story depicts the humans as selfish and cruel onlookers. They have this angel right in front of them, but because he is not what they imagined an angel to be they question his validity. They torture him in hopes of getting him to perform some miracle so that they get the proof they seek. Instead of trying to curiously embrace his beauty the people treat him as less and cage him up. I think the point that the author is trying to make is that we should not be like the onlookers in this passage. Humans are on this planet for a short time and there is no way that we will be able to understand everything we come across. We should try our best to accept the incomprehensible. Enjoy the mystery so to speak.

This need for the old man to check all the boxes of being a perceived angel is also shown by the acts of the church. When Father Gonzaga arrives to see the angel he immediately is suspicious just because he didn’t understand Latin. The Father assumes that his religion is the only true religion. He dismisses the possibility that Latin is not the language of the lord. He basically ignores what is happening in front of him because the old man did not match up to his definition of angel. Which further enables people to do so. I believe this is Marquez’s way of showing the reader that we put too much faith in our religion. Don’t get me wrong I realize that a huge part of organized religion is to have faith in what you are told. But that does not mean that we aren’t allowed to question what is being said.

I don’t know if the old man with enormous wings is truly an angel or not. I could read this a million times to try and figure out the answer, but then I would be just like the people in the story. I think Marquez has taught me to be okay without knowing.