In the short story, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”, by Gabrial Marquez, two carnivals occur simultaneously. The carnivals take place in a small town, sicken with poverty on the shore of the ocean. In one of the carnivals, there was a very old man with enormous wings whom the townspeople believed was an angel. In the second carnival, there was a woman who, at a young age, disobeyed her parents and was turned into a spider. The two carnivals had little in common and had different effects on the townspeople.
The carnival with the angel was perceived as a threat because the angel who, Pelayo found in his backyard, was itself seen as a threat to the townspeople. The threat was expressed by the old wise lady,” He must have been coming for the child, but the poor fellow is so old that the rain knocked him down”; Pelayo and Elisenda feared that the angel would take their child, so they put the angel in the chicken coop. Later in the day, Father Gonzaga attempted to speak to the angel. However, to his surprise, the angel did not speak Latin, the language of God, in the Father’s view. Father Gonzaga thought that the old man was an angel, not one sent by God but the angel of death. Therefore, Father Gonzaga warned the townspeople, “The devil had the bad habit of making use of carnival tricks in order to confuse the unwary.” Although the angel seemed to pose a threat to the townspeople, the spider woman posed no threat and could speak their language. Both the angel and the spider women intrigued the minds of the people, but affected them differently.
The events surrounding the angel caused so much interest with the townspeople that, within a few hours after the priest had been there, “Pelayo courtyard had the bustle of a marketplace, and they had to call in the troops with fixed bayonets to disperse the mob.” With this, Pelayo agreed with his wife that they should fence the yard and charge five cents per person to see the angel. To the townspeople’s disappointment, the angel did not speak their language and could give them no explanation for why he had come to their town. After a while, the townspeople lost interest in him, in that he was not the type of angel that they imagined him to be. The townspeople could not communicate with him, which also undermined their interest in him. Then, a new carnival rolled into town with a woman who been turned into a spider as a child.
The spider women fascinated the townspeople even more than the angel did. She allowed the people to ask her all types of questions and to inspect her strange body, “So that no one would ever doubt the truth of her horror.” But what grabbed the hearts of the townspeople was how she recalled her terrible misfortune, “While still practically a child, she had sneaked out of her parent’s house to go dancing and while she was coming back through the woods after having danced all night without permission, a fearful thunderclap rent the sky in tow and through the crack came the lightning bolt of brimstone that changed her into a spider.” The spider woman than affected the townspeople much more than by the angel because they could relate to the spider women’s misfortune and feel pity for her situation.
The old man with enormous wings did not fit into the townspeople’s vision of an angle as their religion led them to believe. This created conflict with the community’s ability to relate to the “angel” that did not coincide with the stereotype; of a man with pure white wings, a hallow about his head and the ability to communicate with God. Whereas the people did not have previous beliefs of what a woman, who was changed into a spider would be like. This allowed the people to be able to accept the spider woman for who she was to them. Do to this the townspeople could associate with her horrific misfortune; while they could not relate to the old man with enormous wings because his image conflicted with their beliefs of an angel. To this day there has always been the “stereotypical angel”; knowing this could one be able to accept the old man as he is or must one change him to fit their own perception of an angel?