This short story written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez tells about a family, who discovered an old man with huge wings by their house one night. The man did not fit the traditional description of an angel as he was very old, dirty, and smelled awfully. He looked like a beggar with huge wings, which were also pecked and negligent. Still, the couple decided to lock him up in the kitchen coop just in case.
As the word spread around, tons of strangers were on their way to Pelayo and Elisenda’s house to see a miracle. They treated him as a zoo animal, gave him food, threw stones at him, tried to irritate him so that he would stand up etc. However, his patience was truly angelic, as not once did he get upset or angry until someone from the crowd put a hot branding iron on him to check if he was still breathing.
When the town priest came to check up on him, everybody was disappointed to realize that he did not understand Latin, the God’s language, and he spoke a very weird language with the strong accent. Besides, the odor that was emanating from him was not heavenly at all. Still, people with great misfortunes and little mishaps were determined to see the angel and ask him for help.
Elisenda decided to make some profit off of it and came up with an idea to charge people to see the angel. They started selling tickets to all the people who came to see the old man with the wings. This little business turned out to be quite a goldmine, and the couple was able to save enough money to build a new mansion and quit their boring jobs.
Fortunately for an angel, another carnival show came into town and everybody rushed to see another freak – a woman who was turned into a spider. After a long while of being the couple’s annoying pet, the angel grew some new wings and took off into the sky. Elisenda was relieved to see him fly away but only because he was not her burden anymore.
Who was this man? A miracle, an angel from above or just a winged foreigner – we would never know. The final scene does not give us any closure, we don’t know the reason for his departure and we don’t know why and how he appeared on Elisenda and Pelayo’s patio in the first place. What the author was trying to say with this story is that sometimes our expectations are sky high and have nothing to do with real life. Human mind is often unwilling to accept the simple facts, and although a visible miracle like landing of an angel in your backyard is highly unlikely, Gabriel Garcia Marquez thinks differently. The miracle may come, but not in a way we expect it.