Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses imagery and symbolismthroughout his entire short story from beginning to end. One of the mostsignificant uses of symbolism in this text would be the old man or the angelthat the village encounters.
Angels in common knowledge are described to be beautifulheavenly creatures or beings. Marquez can play off this traditional symbolbecause of the angel’s wings specifically. In the story, the angel/old man’s wingsare described to be dirty, disheveled and unembellished.
Marquez gives irony tothis angel. Instead of being an angel of beauty and miracles, it is instead somesort of reaper or deathly figure. However, as unclean as the angel’s wings maybe, it still seems to bring attention to thousands of villagers and travelers. Regardlessof what us the reader believes or imagines the angel to be, the charactershowever seem to treat the angel as if he were an ordinary homeless man. Soonthe village doctor surveys the old man, he notes how naturally the angel/oldman’s unique wings appropriate with the rest of his body. The doctor marvels atwhy the rest of the village’s people do not have wings as well.
This would inresult, suggest that the old man is an ordinary and mystic being all at once.Giving the angel or old man the description of not being fully human ordreamlike whatsoever. Which brings lightto the question; Would we shift our views on angels today, had this angel everbeen discovered by us? More so, the angel seems to have a connection with anewborn child who seems to have fallen ill as soon as the angel arrives.
However,this illness appears to be short-lived as soon as the angel is thrown into acage and is locked up inside a chicken coop. This gives the reader the hintthat the angel’s sudden presence could have had something to do with thenewborn’s health status. As soon as the angel arrived, the child falls ill, andafter a short time is locked away which in result recuperates the child’shealth.Inconclusion, the old man or angel represents light and dirt. I believe thatMarquez wanted us the reader to find the beauty within the ugly and theordinary.
That is what Pelayo and Elisenda cannot do. To them, the old man is afilthy person often seen as nothing more than a homeless person, even if theyrefer to him as an angel. However, the narrator visualizes him as beingbeautiful as well. The angel may look unsettling and maybe even crazy, but itdoes not in any way throw away the fact that he too is in fact a livingcreature.
And we the readers thank the narrator for helping us seeing thisfact.