A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings – Summary

One day while killing crabs during a prolonged rainstorm, Pelayo discovers a homeless, disoriented old man in his courtyard who has very large wings. The old man extremely filthy and apparently senile, speaking an unintelligible language. After consulting neighbors Pelayo and his wife Elisenda conclude that the old man must be an angel who may have come to take their sick child to heaven. Though they are advised to dub the old man to death, they take pity on him especially after their child recovers.

The couple keeps the old man with the chicken and he begins to attract crowds of curious people. The local priest, Father Gonzago announces that the old man cannot be an angel due to his shabby status and inability to speak Latin. He wishes to consult the Bishop.

As soon as the word spreads, pilgrims from all over come to seek advice and healing from him. A woman who counts heartbreaks and an insomniac who finds stars noisy are among some of the pilgrims. The crowd grows so large that Elisenda begins to charge for admission.

As Father Gonzago waits for the church’s opinion on the old man, a traveling freak show arrives in the village. People flock to hear the story of the so called spider woman- a little girl who has been turned into a giant tarantula for disobeying her parents. This sad tale makes the crowd forget the old man.

‘Mean while Pelayo and Elisenda have grown rich from the admission fees Elisenda has charged. They build a big home. The old man continues to stay with them for several years. The little boy, of Elisenda also one day grows older, the chicken coop collapses and the old man moves into the adjacent shed. Elisenda is often annoyed when he moves from room to room inside the house.

Just when Pelayo and Elisenda are convinced that the old man will soon die, he regains his strength. His feathers grow back and he sings sailor songs at night. One day he stretches his wings and flies away as Elisenda watches.

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