Magical Realism



StateCollege of Florida: Bradenton Campus

Gabriel GarcíaMárquez (1927-2014) is widely acclaimed as “the pioneer of magicalrealism” (Lovelady, 2005). His literary works were originallypenned in Spanish and later translated to other pertinent languages.Various factors characterize magical realism in literary works. Thefirst characteristic concerns the use of fantastical elements.Magical realism attaches social relevance to myths, folktales, andfables. Some characters are also given fantasy traits such astelekinesis and telepathy (Arenallo, 2015). Magical realism alsoincludes a real-world setting. Therefore, literary works in thisfield do not include a utopia. Furthermore, magical realism displaysaspects of authorial reticence. This is where the writer deliberatelywithholds information about unclear fantastical occurrences. In thisregard, supernatural events and narratives are treated as commonplace(Arenallo, 2015). Marquez forces the readers to re-examine whethertheir actions validate their religious devotion.

A Very OldMan with Wings adopts magical realism in various instances. Forexample, the short story relates the lives of a couple named Pelayoand Elisenda. The narrative documents how the child of the couple gotsick. Performing marriages and begetting children are mundaneactivities in life. The short story also uses plenty of fantasticalelements. The narrative depicts a fairytale where there exist aspider woman and a flying man. Numerous elements of fantasy are alsointerlaced with reality. The couple`s home is also invaded by a swarmof crabs (Márquez &amp Tornaritis, 2007). The last aspect ofmagical realism is clearly discernible through the subtle referencesmade by the writer.

In this regard,the author introduces a fantastical idea but neglects to provideadditional information. At the end of the short story, Elisenda seesthe old man flying away through the kitchen window (Márquez &ampTornaritis, 2007). The writer neglects to provide supporting evidenceto explain the implications of the old man flying away. Therefore,the reader is forced to either infer the meanings from contextualconsideration or make assumptions. In the stated example, the logicalconclusion is that the old man had developed strong wings such thathe could now escape from captivity. The old man had been restrainedfrom leaving the community for an extended period.

The short storyhighlights aspects of religion in various instances. For example, theneighborly lady seems convinced that the old man is an angel.Nonetheless, she still recommends that the old man be put to deathsince to her, “angels in those times were the fugitive survivors ofa spiritual conspiracy” (Márquez &amp Tornaritis, 2007). Localsflocked to the home of Pelayo and Elisenda to examine the creature.The town priest also visited the scene so as to evaluate whether theold man was an angel. The priest concluded that the old man could nothave been an angel since he could not speak Latin. The archaiclanguage was presumed to be the Lord’s preferred tongue. Besides,the old man had a pungent smell. The priest also writes a letterdirected to the Pope in which he seeks guidance. The priest sought toknow whether the old man deserved acclaim and honor as an angel.

Despite the showof piety, the people treat the old man like a captured animal. Theypersist in queuing so as to check out the animal even when it isofficially declared not to be an angel. The old man suffers aplenty.Firstly, Pelayo found the old man “lying face down in the mud”Márquez &amp Tornaritis, 2007). He also gets trapped in a coopwhere crows prod him. From that point forward, he is treated like apet. Nevertheless, his apparent suffering matters little to thepeople. In contrast, Elisenda and Pelayo try to show kindness to theold man by feeding him and setting him free. To their surprise, “theyfound the whole neighborhood in the front of the chicken coop havingfun with the angel, without the slightest reverence, tossing himthings to eat through the openings in the wire as if he weren’t asupernatural creature but a circus animal” (Márquez &ampTornaritis, 2007). They are rewarded by the large collections whichenabled them to build their private home.

Marquez presentsthe reader with the inhumane treatment of the old man to assert thatpaying lip service barely proved religious piety. A person had toshow a willingness to help others materially and practically beforeclaiming to be religious.


Arellano, J. (2015). Magical realism and the history of theemotions in Latin America. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell UniversityPress.

Márquez, G. G. &amp Tornaritis, N. (2007). A very old man withenormous wings. Paradise Valley, Arizona: GradeSaver LLC.

Lovelady, C. (2005). Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Toledo, Ohio:Great Neck Publishing.