“A Very Old Man with
Enormous Wings”
by Gabriel Garcia
Magic Realism
& Imagery
 What was your initial reaction to the story? Did you like
Thumb test. 
 Let’s talk about it.
Author and Setting
 Gabriel Garcia Marquez, born in 1928 in Aracatuba,
 Won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982
 Setting is in a small seaside village in South America
What genre is this?
 Short Story Magic Realism
 What you do already know about this genre?
 "Reality is not always
probable, or likely."
----Jorge Luis Borges
 The introduction of magical devices or magic in general
within a believable (realistic) story, without any
disruption of the logic of the story.
 Magic Realism is a literary style that "combines
realistic, everyday details with elements of fantasy,
blurring the reader's usual distinctions between reality
and magic. But unlike other works of the imagination
such as fairy tales or folk legends, stories of magic
realism lead to no clear morals or simple truths; they
present a rich and vivid world of magical possibilities,
while frustrating and complicating the reader's efforts to
fix a definite meaning to events”
 Also called "marvelous realism“ (Carpentier)
Magical Realism vs Fantasy
 In fantastic literature, a new universe is introduced to
the reader, with its laws (natural as well as artificial), its
regularities, its objects, its people, its forces, etc.
This world is completely different from ours, or has
enough differences so that we (readers) need
explanations to understand it correctly.
Magic Realism vs Fantasy
 In magic realist literature, the world depicted is ours,
with one major new component: magic is a possibility
(and an actuality) within it.
There shouldn’t be any need to explain what is going on
in this world, its laws, its people, etc. We already know
that since it is a fictional reproduction of our world.
Magic Realism
 Elements of dreams, fairy tales, folklore, or
 Earthly, realistic settings.
 Laws of nature suspended.
 Realism combined with supernatural.
 Effect? Humorous and
thought-provoking results.
Angel Flores
 “In magical realism we
find the transformation of
the common and the
everyday into the
awesome and the unreal. It
is predominantly an art of
surprises. Time exists in a
kind of timeless fluidity
and the unreal happens as
part of reality. Once the
reader accepts the fait
accompli, the rest follows
with logical precision.”
Richard Prehn/ZXORB
Your Turn
 Do you see elements of
magical realism in the text?
 b) What are the "magical
possibilities" in this story?
How is the supernatural
mixed with the mundane?
Your Turn!
With your group,
Find three examples
of magic realism in the
Magic Realism Example #1
“He had to go very
close to see that it
was an old man, a
very old man, lying
face down in the mud,
who, in spite of his
tremendous efforts,
couldn't get up,
impeded by his
enormous wings.”
Magic Realism Example #2
“Against the judgment of
the wise neighbor
woman, for whom
angels in those times
were the fugitive
survivors of a spiritual
conspiracy, they did not
have the heart to club
him to death.”
What literary devices does
Marquez use?
 Symbolism
 Allusion
 Figurative language
 Imagery
 Words or phrases that appeal to the senses.
 Most commonly appeals to sense of sight.
Imagery Example #1
“Sea and sky were a single ash-gray thing and the sands of
the beach, which on March nights glimmered like powdered
light, had become a stew of mud and rotten shellfish.”
Imagery Example #2
“Then he noticed that seen close up he was much
too human: he had an unbearable smell of the
outdoors, the back side
of his wings was
strewn with parasites
and his main feathers
had been mistreated by
terrestrial winds, and
nothing about him
measured up to the
proud dignity of
Your Turn!
• Find three examples of imagery in the
story using the chart I will send home
with you today.
Language & Narration:
 Anything else interesting about the language?
 What do you think of the story's narrative? Is the
narrator judgmental or sympathetic in any way?
 Who is the narrator?
 Who is the main character?
Tone and Mood
 The mood of the story is very gloomy and dark
 What is the culture and time period of this text?
 The setting is in an unnamed coastal town, probably in
South America.
 Happened sometime in the past although it doesn’t
give many hints as to when.
 The story is packaged as a fable. Its subtitle--"A Tale for
Children"--underscores its fairy tale format.
 Define Satire.
 Also has a religious element in when the angel is flying
away at the end, signifies faith.
 So is there a moral?
 Several are possible:
 People wouldn't recognize a miracle even if they saw one.
 Patience pays off.
 Appearances are deceptive.
Types of Satire – from AP
 There are 2 basic forms of satire –
 Formal or Direct Satire
 Indirect Satire.
 Formal Satire is first person satire directed to the audience or another
character in the text.
 Indirect Satire is expressed through narrative and is normally told in
the 3rd person. It is derived from the actions of the characters.
Direct Satire – from AP
 Formal or Direct Satire can be broken down
into 2 basic types: Horatian and Juvenalian.
 Horatian Satire is gentle, urbane, smiling
satire; it aims to correct by gentle, sympathetic
 Juvenalian Satire is biting, bitter, and angry in
tone. It points with contempt and moral
indignation to the corruption and evil of
human beings and institutions.
 A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is a harsh cruel and gripping
tale that shows how compassion is made more startling and
significant when it is highlighted against such an existence of
cruelty, abuse, and horrors. Gabriel Garcia Marquez a writer of
deeply sorrowful epics helps us to remember that we should treat
all well for we may be dealing with Angels or the Lord himself in
disguise. The book [sic] A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is
fraught with symbolism. Wings are symbolic of unchecked
freedom of motion and Angels and yet he chooses to stay with the
family as an act of compassion to change their lives. The spider
woman is atypical of many people’s pettiness, only when it’s easy
and works in my favor to support my prejudices, and all too
convenient "Faith". Gabriel Garcia Marquez's tale is as poignant
now as it was when he wrote it. It shows humanity’s inhumanity
toward each other based on looks, culture, faith, gender, race,
creed, as the backdrop to highlight our moments of compassion
towards each other and our diversity.
Extension: Write Magic Realism.
 Write a complex or compound sentence about G10
ACC English that contains realistic elements, with
chareacters and setting that seem believble in the
classroom, such as “John knew he would never
make it to class on time with all the slow-moving
people in front of him.”
 Add an element of magic realism into the sentence,
bu tdon’t make it seem like it is a surprise or that it
is out of place. You can conitnue to add magical
elements as you develop a more well-rounded story.
 Print out your sentence. Decorate it, if you’d like.
 The sentence could look
like this: “John knew he
would never make it to
class on time when he saw
that the people were
moving too slowly through
the think sludge of pudding
dripping from the walls in
thick drops.”
 What do you think the old man with wings reveals
about human nature?
 about our views of the supernatural?
 Is it something absolute, or a matter of personal
 How is your personal response to this story
influenced by your own culture?
Any of this sound familiar?
 What’s the journey of this story?
 Review the Stages…
 How do they relate to the story?
Ordinary world
 Pelayo and Elisenda killing the crabs.
 Taking care of their sick child.
Call to Adventure
 Pelayo finds a very old man with wings lying face down
in the mud
 Goes to get his wife to show her.
Refusal of call
 When they stick him in the chicken coop.
 Afraid of why he is there.
Meeting with Mentor
 Father Gonzaga came and said he would write to the
bishop who would write to his primate who would write
to the Supreme Pontiff for a final verdict of what to do
with "the angel"
 Not knowing what to do with the old man.
 Father Gonzaga thinking the man is an imposter.
 Pelayo and Elisenda charging five cents per
person to see the angel when a carnival arrivived
in town with a girl turned into a spider from
disobeying her parents.
 The trials of the people who came to see the
Approaching the Inmost
 What do you think?
 Could the small miracles that occurred after the angels
appearance be a sign of the unknown?
 When the Father Gonzaga was doubting the man and
was shown differently than what he thought.
 When the angel became sick.
 Pelayo and Elisenda made a lot of money from the angel,
they bought new clothes and built a new house.
 Relieved when he left, because he had not taken their
 The child got better.
1. The title:
 What is the significance of the title "A Very Old Man
with Enormous Wings"? What do you think about the
 In what sense is the story "A Tale for Children"? How is
the child in the story related to the old man?
2. The supernatural:
 What does the short story say about reality and the
 What do you think of Elisenda's statement that "it was
awful living in that hell full of angels"?

Magic Realism - Mrs Ma`s English SMIC