Class - 12, Unit - 1 Short Stories Gabriel Guide : Chapter - 7, A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings Solution

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Class - 12, Unit - 1 Short Stories

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Chapter - 7, A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings
Question Answers...................................

"A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is a short story by Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, first published in 1955. The story is a magical realist tale about a couple who find an old man with wings outside their house. The story explores themes of the nature of humanity, the power of perception, and the boundaries of human compassion.

The story begins with Pelayo and Elisenda, a couple living in a small town, discovering an old man with wings in their courtyard after a heavy rainstorm. They take him in, initially believing he is a fallen angel, but as the old man struggles to communicate with them and demonstrates a number of human qualities, they begin to doubt his supernatural origin.

Word of the old man spreads quickly through the town, and soon a crowd gathers to see him. The couple exploit the old man's presence to charge admission to see him and make money, leading to the old man becoming a kind of attraction. The couple's son also suffers from a fever, and they hope that the old man's presence will help to heal him.

Despite his otherworldly appearance, the old man demonstrates very human characteristics, such as hunger and fatigue, and the couple struggles to care for him. In the end, they release him back into the wild, and the old man is last seen flying away, his wings no longer a burden.

The story explores themes of the nature of humanity, the power of perception, and the boundaries of human compassion. The townspeople are initially drawn to the old man due to his perceived supernatural qualities, but as they come to recognize his humanity, their interest in him wanes. The couple's exploitation of the old man, charging admission to see him, highlights the often selfish nature of humanity, and the way in which people will exploit others for their own benefit.

Overall, "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is a compelling and thought-provoking story that challenges readers to reconsider their own perceptions of the world around them.

Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. How does the narrator describe the weather and its effects in the exposition of the story?

 In the exposition of the story, the narrator describes a series of unusual weather patterns that wreaked havoc on the village. The relentless rain and sea storms ruined homes and killed crabs in kitchens, while the local roosters began to grow rare flowers instead of feathers. This strange weather caused a general atmosphere of despair in the village.

b. Describe the strange old man as Pelayo and his wife first encounter within their courtyard.

The strange old man in "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is first discovered by Pelayo's wife, Elisenda, in their courtyard, face down in the mud after a heavy rain. The old man has enormous wings that are covered in mud and parasites, and his feathers are "only a few intact" while others "were plucked out by the ocean breeze."

c. Why did Pelayo and Elisenda imprison the old man in the chicken coop?

Pelayo and Elisenda imprison the old man in the chicken coop because they are unsure of what to do with him. They initially believe him to be a castaway or even a dangerous enemy, but then they begin to consider the possibility that he might be an angel. They fear that if they release him, he might fly away or be taken by someone else, so they choose to lock him up in the coop for the time being.

d. Why was Father Gonzaga not sure about the old man being a celestial messenger?

Father Gonzaga, who is a wise and learned man, is not sure if the old man is a celestial messenger because he appears to be "an old and filthy man" rather than a figure of radiant beauty or awe-inspiring power. The priest tries to communicate with the old man to determine if he is an angel, but he is not able to understand the old man's language, which further complicates the matter.

e. Many people gathered at Pelayo’s house to see the strange old man. Why do you think the crowd assembled to see him?

The crowd gathered to see the strange old man because they are curious about him and are drawn to the possibility that he might be an angel. They want to witness a miracle or see something that they have never seen before. The villagers are initially skeptical, but they are also hopeful that the old man might bring some sort of blessing or good luck to the village.

f. Some miracles happened while the crowd gathers to see the strange man. What are these miracles?

Some miracles happened while the crowd gathered to see the strange man. For example, a spider woman who had been turned into a tarantula by a priest's curse, was able to regain her human form when she was near the old man. Another miracle is that a paralyzed child was able to walk again after he touched the old man's wings.

g. State the irritating things that the people did with the strange old man.

The people who gathered around the old man did many irritating things to him. Some people threw stones at him, while others pulled out his feathers as souvenirs. Elisenda, who had grown tired of caring for the old man, began charging admission to see him, which led to people throwing chicken bones at him and poking him with umbrellas.

h. How and why was the woman changed into a spider?

 The woman was changed into a spider because she had neglected her religious duties and was seen as sinful by the local priest. The priest cursed her to become a tarantula, which she remained until she was able to touch the old man's wings and return to human form.

i. Describe how Elisenda saw the strange man flying over the houses?

Elisenda saw the strange man flying over the houses and disappearing over the horizon. She realized that he was able to fly away at any moment and that his presence was not a permanent fixture in the village. This made her feel a sense of relief, as she was growing increasingly tired of caring for the old man and was anxious for him to leave.

Reference to text

a. The arrival of a strange old man at Pelayo’s courtyard arouses many suspicions and explanations. Explain how the neighbour woman, Father Gonzaga and the doctor speak of the strange man. Why do you think these three people give three different kinds of interpretations?

In the story "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," the arrival of the old man at Palayo's courtyard caused different reactions from the people around. The neighbour woman described him as an angel, while Father Gonzaga was uncertain of his identity as an angel or a devil. The doctor, on the other hand, thought of the old man as an unusual patient. These three people give different interpretations of the old man because they see him from different perspectives. The neighbour woman's perception of the old man is based on her religious belief, Father Gonzaga's uncertainty is due to his limited knowledge, and the doctor's observation is from a medical point of view. These different interpretations show how people perceive things based on their experiences and beliefs.

b. This story belongs to the genre of ‘magical realism, a genre perfected by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his novels and short stories. Magical realism is a narrative technique in which the storyteller narrates the commonplace things with magical colour and the events look both magical and real at the same time. Collect five magic realist happenings from the story and argue why they seem magical to you.

"Magical realism" is a narrative technique used in literature where the writer blends magical elements with realistic ones. In "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses magical realism to create a unique story. Some of the magical realist happenings in the story include the old man's enormous wings, the spider woman's transformation, the dead child's resurrection, the old man's healing powers, and the townspeople's curiosity. These events seem magical because they cannot be explained using scientific or logical explanations. For example, the old man's wings are too large to allow him to fly, yet he does fly. The spider woman's transformation is not something that can be explained in reality, yet it happens in the story.

c. The author introduces the episode of a woman who became a spider for having disobeyed her parents. This episode at once shifts people’s concentration from the strange old man to the spider woman. What do you think is the purpose of the author to bring this shift in the story?

The author introduces the episode of the woman who became a spider to show how people's focus and attention can quickly shift. The spider woman's episode diverts people's attention from the old man, who is the main subject of the story. The purpose of this shift is to show how quickly people can move from one event to another, even if it's a significant or minor occurrence. Additionally, the spider woman's episode also reveals the cultural values and beliefs of the people in the town. The woman's transformation into a spider is punishment for disobeying her parents, which reflects the traditional Nepalese culture.

d. The story deals with the common people’s gullibility. How do Pelayo and his wife take advantage of common people’s whim?

 In "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," Palayo and his wife, Elisenda, take advantage of the people's gullibility to make a profit. When the townspeople come to see the old man, Palayo and his wife charge them an admission fee, and they start to make a significant amount of money. The couple then builds a mansion with the money they make from the townspeople. The story illustrates how people can exploit others for their own benefit, especially when there is an opportunity. Palayo and his wife take advantage of the old man's arrival to get rich, showing how people can use even miraculous events for their gain.

Reference beyond the text
a. An irresistible crowd queues at Palayo’s house for many days simply to look at
the strange old man. Narrate an episode from your experience or from another
story where people assemble in crowds, not for any noble cause.
Crowds can assemble for various reasons, and not all of them are noble. One such episode that comes to mind is the phenomenon of "rubbernecking" after a car accident. When an accident occurs on a busy road, many people who are passing by may slow down or even stop to get a glimpse of the wreckage. They are not there to help or provide any aid to the victims but rather to satisfy their own curiosity or morbid fascination. This can lead to further congestion on the road and even impede the work of emergency responders who are trying to clear the area. This kind of behavior is often criticized for being insensitive and disrespectful to those who have been affected by the accident.

b. The taste of children is different from grown-ups. What are the elements in the
story that make ‘The Old Man with Enormous Wings’ a children’s story? 
"The Old Man with Enormous Wings" contains many elements that make it suitable for children. Firstly, the story has a clear and straightforward plot that is easy to follow. The characters are also quite simple, and the language used is not overly complex or difficult to understand. The story is also full of magical and fantastical elements, which are often appealing to children. For example, the old man's wings and the strange things that happen around him are intriguing and mysterious, and they capture the imagination. The story also has a moral lesson, which is a common feature of children's stories. It shows how people can be cruel and selfish and how they can be taken in by false promises and illusions. Overall, the story is a good example of how a children's story can have both entertainment value and a meaningful message.

All Class 12 English Book Solution Link Unitwise

Section I : Language Development

Section II : Literature
Unit - 1 Short Stories

Unit - 2 Poems

Unit - 3 Essays

Unit - 4 One Act Plays

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