The beauty of God is only to be seen with appreciative eyes. In Gabriel Garcia Marquezs A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings a man who is perceived to be an angel and yet perceived to be not of God, creates controversy amongst the people of a small town. Descriptive detail, setting, and the over all tone of the story reveal the theme to be: sometimes times things are not as they appear to be, and in order for people to find peace with things they are not familiar with, they try to make rationalizations, justifications or conjectures not based off of substantial evidence.
Marquezs unique style of magical realism features a lot of descriptive detail which is used to convey the theme. For example, when describing the old man he writes, His huge buzzard wings, dirty and half-plucked, were forever entangled in the mud. (p.270) the author makes it a point to compare the old mans wings to that of a buzzard because buzzards generally are not admired, but despised for their features and scavenging methods; he could have used any bird like an eagle or some admired bird but he chose a buzzard. He also lets the reader know they are dirty and half-plucked. Because the old man is said to be an angel, the reader can infer that the qualities of the old mans angel wings are far from celestial and that he is inaccurately perceived. This relates back to the theme that people will make inaccurate judgments about something in attempt to familiarize themselves with it.
Another time descriptive detail is used is when it says, There were only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth, and his pitiful condition of a drenched great-grandfather had taken away any sense of grandeur he might have had.(p.270) how angel similar is that? The descriptive detail in this quote, such as: pitiful, drenched great-grandfather, faded hairs, and very few teeth, is used to show the reader that how the old mans aspects are more opposite to the typical angel (the clean, graceful, beautiful, celestial beings Hispanic culture portrays angels as) than anything. He purposely uses negative diction in describing the old man to again show the theme of the story.
Along with descriptive detail, the setting plays a significant role in showing the theme of the story. To describe the setting, Marquez writes, The world had been sad since Tuesday. Sea and sky were a single ash-gray thing and the sands of the beach, which on March nights glimmered like powdered light had become a stew of mud and rotten shellfish. (p. 269) This is the setting the story begins with. This is the setting Marquez uses in introducing the old man to the reader. This quote shows Marquez use of setting and descriptive detail to show the theme because the irony of an angel appearing under such circumstances allows the reader to see the truth, which is: this angel, might not be an angel, but just an old man with enormous wings. The setting which consists of rotten shell fish is dirty and gloomy does not match with the subject of an angel, but something more of terrestrial glory. It not only conveys the theme, but sets forth a certain tone in the story.
The tone of the story is sympathetic, but also pitiful. The authors attitude towards the old man shows the reader that the old man does not get the respect of an angel, but is treated badly and hardly receives any respect. On page 270 it says, They found the whole neighborhood in front of the chicken coop having fun with the angel, without the slightest reverence, tossing him things to eat through the openings in the wire as if he werent a supernatural creature but a circus animal. This example of mistreatment shows the pitiful tone because it says they treated him like a circus animal without any reverence. This gives the reader sympathetic feelings for the old man. Sympathy and pity these words attributed to the tone do not coincide with the universal feelings of reverence and respect the audience feels for angels. This shows the theme because the authors feelings towards the old man reveal in more depth, who or what the old man is and which is not likely what the people assume him to be.
The tone, setting and descriptive detail reveal theme that in order for people to come to peace with unexplainable things they try to create their own explanations whether they be accurate or not. Things are not always what they seem to be. In conclusion this theme is further evident when the story says, they were making all kinds of conjectures concerning the captives future. The simplest among them thought that he should be named mayor of the world. Others of sterner mind felt that he should be promoted to rank of five-star general this part of the story demonstrates the peoples unawareness of what the old man is and what to do with him. Because they are unaware they feel they must find a purpose for the old man in attempt to understand who or what he is and comfort themselves with the familiarity that would come from his use. Some things just cannot be explained.