one of the central elements of magical realist fictionreawakening readers sense

One of the central elements of magical realist

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one of the central elements of magical-realist fiction—reawakening readers’ sense of wonder at their own world. García Márquez suggests that if people can become inured to the presence of a winged man in a story, then they can just as easily overlook the wonders and little miracles of real life. A story such as “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is meant to serve as a reminder that everyday life is filled with great mysteries and wonders that people overlook too often. 2. What surprised him most, however, was the logic of his wings. They seemed so natural on that completely human organism that he couldn’t understand why other men didn’t have them too. When both the old man and Pelayo and Elisenda’s son come down with chicken pox, the local physician takes advantage of the opportunity to examine the “angel” physically. The doctor is surprised both that 6
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the old man is still alive and that his wings seem so natural on his body. In this passage, García Márquez seems to imply that there is nothing angelic about the old man at all, although the narrator goes back to referring to him simply as “the angel” a few lines later. More important, the passage suggests that the boundary we draw between natural and supernatural is arbitrary at best. García Márquez subtly raises the question: if wings are so naturally a part of this particular man’s body, then are we the freaks for not having them? Magical Realism: García Márquez’s literary reputation is inseparable from the term magical realism , a phrase that literary critics coined to describe the distinctive blend of fantasy and realism in his and many other Latin American authors’ work. Magical-realist fiction consists of mostly true-to-life narrative punctuated by moments of whimsical, often symbolic, fantasy described in the same matter-of-fact tone. Magical realism has become such an established form in Latin America partly because the style is strongly connected to the folkloric storytelling that’s still popular in rural communities. The genre, therefore, attempts to connect two traditions—the “low” folkloric and the “high” literary—into a seamless whole that embraces the extremes of Latin American culture. As the worldwide popularity of García Márquez’s writing testifies, it is a formula that resonates well with readers around the world. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is one of the most well-known examples of the magical realist style, combining the homely details of Pelayo and Elisenda’s life with fantastic elements such as a flying man and a spider woman to create a tone of equal parts local-color story and fairy tale. From the beginning of the story, García Márquez’s style comes through in his unusual, almost fairy tale–like description of the relentless rain: “The world had been sad since Tuesday.” There is a mingling of the fantastic and ordinary in all the descriptions, including the swarms of crabs that invade Pelayo and Elisenda’s home and the muddy sand of the beach that in the rainy grayness looks “like powdered light.” It is in this strange, highly textured, dreamlike setting that the old winged man appears, a living myth, who is nevertheless covered in lice and dressed in rags. 7
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