The presence of a stranger in a place can attract different reactions from different people. While some will provide a warm welcome to him/her, others may fight back the person. However, since this continues to happen, some strangers have turned as blessings to the few who welcome them. The reverse of this case still holds. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the author of the narrative A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings illustrates this situation. In his account, the author qualifies in driving home this point through the way he strategically allocates different roles to different characters. The old man comes in as a strange being, bearing both angelic and human features. Elisenda and Pelayo play the role of the villagers in whom the strange fellow finds refuge. According to the author, it pays a lot to welcome, rather than to mistreat strangers like the old man. The old man, the main hero, is strange as the narrative unfolds.
Featuring the old man as the main hero and an epitome of strangers, the author qualifies in presenting the picture of strangers. In terms of physical appearance, the old man can pass for both a man, as the author calls him, as well as an angel. Marquez defines him as “…a very old man lying down in the mud…impeded by his enormous wings” (353). Only angels have wings and therefore, the winged being in the world of wingless people can appear strange. In addition, despite having the wings, he is dirty and following the evident qualities angles, he cannot pass for one based on peoples’ judgments and therefore strange. More so, he is weak and speaks funny language. However, he suffers mistreatment upon his arrival to Pelayo’s family.
The old man encounters a good deal of mistreatment despite his being harmless. For instance, when the villagers find him in the mud, even without questioning or helping him, they drag him right away to the chicken coop, rather than a pleasant environment where they can wash, clothe, or even feed him. Marquez exposits “…the hens pecked at him…the cripples pulled out his feathers…the most merciful threw stones at him” (355). Therefore, these among others, illustrate the experience of strangers, with others suffering to the point of death, as the neighbor woman requires Pelayo to do with the old man. However, strangers are a source of blessings.
The ways of God surpass those of men and when God plans to bless his people, he uses strange ones like the old man. As the author reveals, Pelayo’s family is poverty-stricken with one of their kids having recovered after being deathly ill. Nevertheless, God miraculously uses this filthy, weak, disoriented, and homeless old man to bless Pelayo’s family. Elisenda, Pelayo’s wife gets the “…idea of fencing in the yard and charging five cents admission to see the angel…in less than a week, they had crammed their rooms with money…” (Marquez 354). A family that was the other day dominated by poverty, with poorly conditioned houses has “…built a two-story mansion with balconies and gardens…” (Marquez 356). Strangers really can change the lives of people!
In conclusion, the novel A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is a must-read story for any person who knows what it means to welcome people. I like it as it technically addresses the current society, whose selfishness has deprived it of blessings. It arouses the need to welcome strangers warmly just like any other visitors, for it never knows that the stranger might be God-sent, meant to transform it in a mighty way. To sum up, the book is an informative piece of work.
Marquez, Garcia. A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings. New York: Maxwell Publications, 1968. Print.