To clearly understand the story, “The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings: A Tale for Children” we must first understand the context to which the story is set. The story is a magical realism set in Latin America which presents a real life story through magic and thus a deeper meaning exists within the story.
In the story it is discovered that the creature does not understand the language spoken by the locals although it was suspected to be Latin, this gives a political dimension to it and as highlighted by Father Gonzales who became suspicious of the creature when he discovered that the creature did not understand the heavenly language.
In this context we can understand that the story is reflective of the political climate of Colombia where it is dominated by two parties, this story is attributed to the writer who is of a mixed race and descended from pirates and smugglers, he has presented himself as the winged creature and thus seemingly making a political statement.
The writer has portrayed himself as an outsider (winged man) and his two hosts as the main political parties in Colombia. One can interpret the unbearable smell as the misbehaviors committed by the outsiders i.e. the pirates and smugglers.
The story can also be placed in a religious context. Believing the language of the old man to be Latin; the people of Macombo have the feeling that the Creature might be an angel. This attracts pilgrims from all over who are expecting to receive miracles. The writer tells of the Portuguese who couldn’t sleep, of the sleepwalker, the woman who had been counting his heartbeat since childhood and many other people with different ailments.
However, no miracle happened and hence no person was healed and instead some of them got even whose. Realizing that they couldn’t be healed the pilgrims forget all about the winged man except Palayo and his wife who continue to live with the creature. The pilgrims are attracted to another spectacle of the woman who was changed to a spider.
The reader observes the magical quality of the winged man through the doctor after he and the child were caught with Chickenpox. The doctor discovers that his heart doesn’t beat normally but makes a ‘faint whistling’, he also realizes that the wings appear naturally and wonders why men cannot have them, in this the writer shows that what appears unnatural to someone can be natural to another or event to ourselves if we take a careful look at something.
On carefully reading the story one can also come to the conclusion that the winged man is an angel that came to protect the child who had just been born. This is because as soon as the child attained the school going age the angel flies away, besides that the winged man is observed playing with the child.
The child behaves with openness towards the angel in a way that is lacking in adults. Also, the coming of the old man with wings brings success to the family of the child; the writer tells us that with the money they had saved up, ‘they built a two storey mansion with balconies and gardens’.
Above all, the story gives a moral lesson to the target audience that it had set to reach, the writer tells us the story of the woman who was changed into a spider for disobeying her parents and thus the story remains folklore nonetheless.