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An Angel or Just “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings”
The accurate nature of the title character is purposely left ambiguous by the author in order to spot that selection completely upon the villagers. Even though the correct nature and purpose of the old man is by no means revealed, his action clearly indicate a lack of want, will or capacity to do harm. By eliminating the possibility that old man with wings represents a threat capable of causing conflict within their culture, his arrival transforms into moral instruction on the topic of how mistreatment of a foreigner can be stimulated when a community comes into conflict with their own cultural assumptions through unexpectedly facing a challenge to their cultural expectations. The theme of alienation runs via the story from the beginning, but before long it is clear that this is a distinctive type of alienation. Despite the fact that physically repellant and with a bearing entirely at odds with standard artistic representations of angels, the accurate nature of this theme only becomes apparent when the town priest expresses suspicion that the utterly unique creature with wings is almost certainly an imposter since “he saw that he did not recognize the language of God or know how to greet His ministers.” This assumption is only confirmed among the villagers upon his rejection of mothballs and their blind acceptance of the shaky premise that they are “food prescribed for angels.” Progressively, it becomes clear that this obscure creature is not alienated by the villagers due to the fact of unexplainable unfamiliarity, but simply because of his explainable unfamiliarity. Unable to resolve the contradiction of a man with wings not conforming to the angel they know, they can rationalize a moral justice to their rejection on the basis of what he undoubtedly is not rather than what may possibly possibly be.
Deemed to be a stranger and something that is alien to constructed cultural values, the old man can with no guilt be unceremoniously dumped into a chicken coop as a reward for not getting clubbed to death. By that point, the complete town in aware and as a result complicit. This dehumanization of a attainable winged angel by forcing him into into a coop built for winged food becomes an example of responding to alienation through ethnic prejudice “an ideology which makes an incomprehensible globe intelligible by imposing upon that world a simplified and categorical `answer system’” (Seeman, 1959). The answer technique in this case entails “finding out if the prisoner had a navel, if his dialect had any connection with Aramaic, how a lot of times he could fit on the head of a pin, or no matter whether he wasn’t just a Norwegian with wings.” Ethnic prejudice creates a program in which the next best point to proving the old man is an angel and is proving that he’s not. And considering that it incomprehensible that a genuine angel could diverge so sharply from their assumptions, the only intelligible answer is that he is not an angel. The only logical conclusion that can be extrapolated from the determination that he is not an angel is that his wings are proof that he is either a fraud or freak. Either way, his mere existence is an abomination in the face of almost everything they hold sacred. Considering that an abomination is by definition alien to God’s all-natural globe, any cruelty and mistreatment directed toward him is justified by means of faith. Such therapy may even probably be nothing much less than God’s will.
The establishment of the old man as an abomination justifies the villagers’ alienation and eradicates the danger that mistreatment can be categorized as inhumane, considering that his wings prove that he is not human. Whilst he hasn’t truly been verified not to be an angel, either, he has proven a threat to the community. Not through any exhibition of need to do harm, but as a threat to the cultural foundation upon which the neighborhood has constructed its definition of itself. The villagers might have failed in their effort to prove beyond all doubt that the old man is not an angel in any sense, but they can be happy that they have proven he’s not an angel distinct to the narrow conception of what such a creature would be. That narrow chasm of distinction can be filled by their collective absence of empathy and the totality of their indifference to his suffering.
“A Quite Old Man with Enormous Wings” has been classified as an example of the Magical Realism literary genre, in which the supernatural fits comfortably with the organic world. As a outcome, the story can end with the image of the stranger using his wings to take flight without necessitating a final resolution to the mystery of his origin or nature. That unexplained nature has already placed the villager in conflict with the villagers’ personal cultural expectations and the result has been the choice to alienate the stranger in their midst due to the fact of the incomprehensibility of angelic nature as defined within their restricted worldview. As the old man flies away from the village, his mystery is transferred to readers, who now should bring their personal cultural assumptions into play as they interpret for themselves no matter whether they would recognize an angel by his wings when he appears in the world.
Seeman, M. (1959). On the meaning of alienation. American Sociological Evaluation, 24(6), 783-791. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/steady/2088565
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