A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

Themes and Colors
The Sacred and the Mundane Theme Icon
Patience, Empathy, and Cruelty Theme Icon
Faith, Religion, and Morality Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is the story of a decaying angel who falls to earth and is kept in a backyard chicken coop by a family who is annoyed by his presence. Márquez’s characters do not consider the angel’s arrival to be miraculous or even remarkable. Instead, they accept the supernatural aspect of the angel’s presence without question, focusing instead on what the angel can do for them and concluding, ultimately…

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Instead of treating the angel with reverence or sympathy, the townspeople are cruel to him; they keep him in wretched conditions, hurt him in order to rouse him into more entertaining behavior, and exploit his suffering by turning him into a ticketed spectacle. While the townspeople’s behavior towards the angel is unambiguously cruel, Márquez does not suggest that this is because they are singularly bad people. Instead, he shows how an accumulation of small transgressions—beginning…

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In “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings,” religion is a hollow set of habits, rather than a genuine moral framework. When the angel falls to earth, he finds himself among Christians who should be delighted by the heavenly miracle of his existence. However, since the angel does not match their preconceptions of what an angel should look like or do, nobody treats him with either reverence or kindness. Instead of taking care of him…

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