Study Questions for Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Born in 1928, Marquez won the Nobel Prize in 1982 and was perhaps best known for his third novel, 100 Years of Solitude [1967], although he published multiple collections of short stories and essays, as well as eight novels. You can find additinal information about his life and works through the Marquez link in our schedule of readings. Known as Gabo to his friends and fans, Garcia Marquez was considered one of the most significant Latin american writers of his generation and, along with Borges and others, was associated with magical realism, fiction that blurs the boundaries between the mundane and the fantastic, reality and dream.

As your read "A Very old Man with Enourmous Wings" [1955],consider some of the following issues:

  1. Who narrates this story? Characterize the narrator.
  2. After the old man arrives at the coastal fishing village, the villagers provide six interpretations of who the old man is. What are the six interpretations and how is each interpretation somehow a result of the individual biases or perspectives of the villager stating the interpretation?
  3. To what extent do these interpretations of what the old man is warn us about attempting to provide rational explanations for fantastic or irrational events?
  4. How do Pelayo and Elisandra benefit from the presence of the very old man?
  5. Why does Garcia Marquez introduce the spider woman into the story? That is, how does her presence in the story provide a comment on human nature and on the villagers' reactions to the very old man?
  6. Does this story, which some readers and critics consider to be a children's story, a fairy tale, have a moral, a lesson for us, just as the story of the spider woman functions as a lesson to children who disobey their parents?