Marquez Literary Analysis Fending Off Research Paper

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The angel's position as a symbol of faith is revealed not only through his wings, but also through his first appearance drenched in mud. In Christian theology, the relationship between God and man began with God's creation of Adam through a mixture of earthly clay and divine spirit (Genesis 2:7). The angel's appearance in the mud highlights the duality of this relationship -- that it is at the same time spiritually mystical and mundanely physical.

The religious symbolism of the text is continued in the reaction of the citizens. The community's skepticism, callousness, and demand for "miracles" from the angel (222) calls to mind the treatment of Christ when he appeared to the Jewish community. While some recognized him as an embodiment of God, the Bible contains many accounts of his being ridiculed, doubted, and ultimately dismissed as a fraud by all but a few.

What is Marquez saying about faith by centering his story around these religious symbols? The angel certainly serves a function for Pelayo and Elisendra and for the community. The baby recovers from his fever after the angel appears; though a causal relationship is not made explicit, it is implied. Pelayo and Elisendra clearly benefit financially from the curiosity of the population. Even the citizens who come for miracles derive some small, if strange, benefits -- a paralyzed man was not healed but "almost won the lottery" (222). When the angel finally does go on his way, Elisendra watches him leave with a faint bit of tenderness, but only because "he was no longer an annoyance in her life" (225).

Perhaps, despite our preconceived notions of how the supernatural should be acknowledged and the role it should play in our lives, Marquez is pointing out with a certain amount of forgiveness the role that it actually plays in reality.
We are made of mud, we live in a world of mud, and perhaps only in the muddiest ways can we commune with God. In the New Testament, Christ does not heal blindness by sprinkling some sparkling supernatural dust on the blind man's eye, but by covering it in mud (John 9:11). In Marquez's story, the supernatural meets man in his own mundane sphere and works its magic within that sphere. It does not require acknowledgement, and is not weakened or harmed by its treatment. In fact, at the end of the story, the angel recovers and flies away without the least bit of ill effect from his stay (225).

Not all scholars believe that Marquez's symbolism points to such an optimistic conclusion. Thomas Foster asserts that the story begs the question of "whether we would recognize the Second Coming if it occurs" (Foster 130). Salvatore Settis does not see the angel as representing religion at all, but as representative of Father Time (Settis 2). But the variety of possible symbolic readings is the hallmark of magical realism, and of Marquez's writing at large. It is this variety that allows it speak across cultures, above assumptions, and to the spirit of every reader.

Works Cited

Faris, Wendy. Ordinary Enchantments: Magical Realism and the Remystification of Narrative. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2004. Print.

Foster, Thomas. How to Read Literature like a Professor. New York: HarperCollins, 2003. Print.

Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings." Collected Stories. Trans. Gregory Rebassa and J.S. Bernstein. New York: HarperCollins, 1999. Print.

The King James Bible. Retrieved from / . 7 November 2010.….....

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