A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings Commonlit Answers

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  • 12th Grade
  • 1340 Lexile

Assessment Answers

QuestionAnswer
What does the old lady of the village claim the Old Man is?An angel
What titles or roles do the townspeople assign to the Old Man and what does this show about them?5-star general or Mayor; they believe he should be respected
What about the Old Man makes Father Gonzaga suspect that he is not an angel? Are these observations and judgments justified?he doesn’t understand Latin/doesn’t understand their language
What does Father Gonzaga do in order to prove whether or not the Old Man is an angel? How is this absurd, and how is it a criticism of the organized religion?He writes back to Rome; after he doesn’t hear back from Rome
How do the couple who find the Old Man profit from him?They invite people to come see an angel
When the people hurt the Old Man, most think that he is acting out of pain. Even thought this is the case, why do they avoid annoying him? What do they think will happen? What does this show about the people?He could hurt them; they are afraid of him
What type of questions do the people of Rome ask about the Old Man? Do these seem like productive questions? Why?Doe he have a navel? That would prove he is a human if he had a navel.
What eventually draws people away from the Old Man? What does this show about the people?The trantula girl draws people away from the man/ this shows people want to see someone who is different
Is the Old Man able to perform miracles? What is the people’s reaction to this?No, he is not able to perform miracles, so the people don’t believe he is an angel
Why do Pelayo and Elisenda put up bars on their newly renovated house? Why is this absurd?to not let angels come in because many people would love to see angels. They already have Angels
The doctor concludes that the wings look so nature that he wonders what? Based on other ideas from the text (and if we can assume that this is an angel), what is the answer to the doctor’s inquiry?every man should have wings
What does Elisenda think is awful about the world? What does she wish there weren’t any of? Why is this ironic?It is a hell full of angels. She doesn’t want angels but she already has one.
What is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s message of this story?Acceptance is a hard thing

Describe the old man that is found on the beach. What did he look like? What language did he speak, etc.

In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” the old man found on the beach is a great intrigue and mystery character. His description is as follows:

  1. Physical Appearance: The old man is described as very old, pitiable, frail. He has sparse, faded hair on his balding skull and very few teeth in his mouth. His overall physical condition suggests weakness and vulnerability, akin to a “drenched great-grandfather,” diminishing any sense of grandeur or majesty one might expect from an angelic being.
  2. Wings: His most notable feature is the enormous wings on his back. These wings are large and resemble those of a buzzard, but they are dirty, half-plucked, and entangled in the mud. The condition of the wings, being tattered and unkempt, starkly contrasts with the typical portrayal of angels in literature and religious iconography.
  3. Clothing: The old man is dressed poorly, almost like a ragpicker. This humble and unimpressive attire sharply contrasts with the traditional, grandiose depiction of celestial beings.
  4. Language: He communicates in an incomprehensible dialect, which none of the characters in the story understand. His voice is described as strong, reminiscent of a sailor’s, but the language barrier adds to the enigma surrounding his origins and identity.
  5. Behavior and Demeanor: The old man exhibits weakness and a lack of coordination. He struggles to free himself from the muddy ground, showing signs of physical exhaustion or incapacity. His behavior is generally passive, and he appears detached from or indifferent to the curiosity and the various ways in which the people around him react to his presence.
  6. Interaction with People: He does not engage much with the people who find him. This detachment and his inability (or unwillingness) to communicate in a familiar language further contribute to his mysterious aura.

The old man in Marquez’s story is a complex human and supernatural blend. His decrepit, almost pitiful state juxtaposed with his enormous, mystical wings creates a sense of magical realism, a hallmark of Marquez’s work.

The ambiguity of his character – an ostensibly angelic figure presented with very human weaknesses – opens up a wide range of interpretations regarding his symbolic significance in the narrative.


“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, part of his collection of stories that blend magical realism with social commentary. The story is a vivid example of Marquez’s ability to weave fantastical elements into everyday settings, creating a unique narrative that blurs the line between the real and the surreal.

The story begins with Pelayo and Elisenda, a couple who find an old man with enormous wings in their backyard. This man is perceived to be an angel. The couple, their neighbors, and eventually their entire community interact with this supposed celestial being in various ways, reflecting human nature’s diverse aspects – curiosity, greed, skepticism, and exploitation.

Marquez uses this narrative to explore themes such as the human response to the unknown and the miraculous, the thin line between reverence and exploitation, and the contrast between mundane reality and the extraordinary. The story critiques how society can commodify the miraculous for personal gain and how it often loses sight of humanity and compassion in the face of the extraordinary.

The story is rich with symbolism and allegory, typical of Marquez’s writing style, inviting various interpretations. With his ambiguous nature and mysterious origin, the old man could represent different things to different people – a religious figure, a symbol of suffering and resilience, or a commentary on how the elderly are treated in society.

Marquez’s writing is known for its beautiful prose and deep, often dark, insights into human nature and society. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is a quintessential example of his mastery in blending the real with the magical and providing profound observations on the human condition.

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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth
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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth is a seasoned linguist and literacy educator with over 7 years of experience in the field. Holding a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the prestigious Harvard University, Evelyn has dedicated her career to exploring the intricacies of language acquisition and promoting literacy among diverse learner populations.

With a passion for bridging the literacy gap and a belief in the transformative power of education, Dr. Wordsworth continues to contribute to the field through her insightful research and engaging instructional materials.




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