Elisenda And Exploitation In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” displays that we as a people persecute and torture the people who are different because we refuse to put in the effort to know and understand them as people. No one in the entire town shows the elderly man any form of sympathy or support especially Pelayo and Elisenda. This showcases the almost nonexistent humanity within the village. Society has always exiled anyone who was different. Any minority in this society is pushed around and treated like less than. These groups are abused and rejected even the most basic forms of kindness all the time, not that different to Elisenda’s treatment of the old man. It is only until the old man flies away that Elisenda can reflect on her disgusting and savage behavior.
Elisenda’s exploitation of the old man for her own selfish gains expresses that people don’t recognize their horrid treatment of others until they are left alone with themselves to reflect on themselves and their unforgivable actions. It is clear that the old man wanted nothing to do with what Pelayo and Elisenda put him through. He had to “force himself to be comfortable in his burrowed nest” and endure the “hellish heat”. He is entrapped like cattle and must live in a chicken coup. They force him live in a place where animals are meant to live, and the townsfolk never try to assist him. At some point the old man had parasites eating away at his wings, hens were pecking him, and he was believed to be dead. No one stepped up to help; Elisenda began to charge a fee to see the old man to make some extra money. None of that money went to help the old man in anyway. It was used to buy Elisenda and Pelayo a Mansion and to upgrade Elisenda’s wardrobe, and no money went into making a better house for the old man. Elisenda sucked dry all of the money she could out of him.
The town’s treatment and torture of the old man demonstrates how cruel people can be to others simply because they are different. In addition to being put on display for the townspeople, the old man was also tortured Rocks were thrown at him, his feathers were yanked out, he was branded with a hot iron, and they beat him until he began to move, with tears in his eyes. It is gob smacking to think that a town full of people would treat this old man in such an inhumane and absolutely selfish way. At first the reader gets the impression that this must be a town of truly vile people, but with a little more digging it is obvious that this is just like any other town. It sends the message that we as people are programed to take what we can for others to better ourselves.
Elisenda and Pelayo never try to effectively communicate to the old man. When the old man first lands in Elisenda’s yard, she calls upon a neighbor woman “who knows all about life and death” to give her judgement on the man. Elisenda doesn’t try to talk to him or get to know him to place her own judgement on him. The neighbor woman declares him and angel and says that he should be beaten to death because he must have done something wrong to have fallen from heaven. She has never met the old man, nor ever talked to him but passes a judgement on him where the result is his death, and Elisenda takes the woman’s judgement as fact. Because of Elisenda’s quick judgement, she never takes the old man’s feelings into consideration.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is a display of people’s abuse and exploitation of others. Elisenda exploits the old man for her own monetary and societal gain. The only time we see Elisenda have any kind of remorse for what she has done is when she is cutting onions and sees the old man flying away and “let out a sigh of relief, for her and for him”. We can only hope at this point that Elisenda has reflected and learned from her horrible actions.
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