Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" (1968; from The [llcredible alld Sad
Tale of Inllocent Erbtdira and Her Hearl1ess Gnllldmother).
The plot of a short story, such as the five Ul this chapter, will arouse
the reader's interest over the duration of the narrative but cannot control
the reader's emotional responses. For example, among a dass of stu-
dents. there will likely be many different responses to stories such as "A
Very Old Man with Enormous Wings."
All five of the short stones discussed in this chapter begin with a
character or scene. which precipitously mitiates the plot. However, the
plot in Garda Marquez's short stories appears ambiguous, not only in
its creation of mood (the creation of a state of mind based on the nar-
rative's information), but also in the way in which the story is told. Al-
though the plot IS seen as the plan of the short story, representing the
order in which events are told, the reader must also pay close attention
to causality (what incites the characters to do what they dOl.
Although the main characters playa unifying role, the omniscient nar-
rator and the reader are the ones who must put the plot together. Cer·
ta1n.i:y Garda Marquez's writing seems to challenge the reader with
plots where the pieces do not fit together easily, or at all.
In each of the stories the setting is similar: a small. rural town, wtuch
IS geographically far enough removed from other villages so as to seem
to constitute an entire Isolated world. Readers may think of the towns
as being near or around the Atlantic Colombian coast on the Caribbean
Sea. Frequently, the climate is oppreSSive: tropical, Windy, hot and
mid. and plagued by frequent and heavy raInfalls. Macondo, the fictional
Colombian village of many of Gabriel Garda Marquez's works, is iden-
tified specifically in two of the short stories examined in this chapter:
"Monologue of Isabel Watching It Rain in Macondo" (hereafter "Isabel's
Monologue"), and "Big Mama's Funeral." In the other three stories. the
town where the narration takes place. the reader may assume. is also
Macondo or a town like it, but the place name is never mentioned.
Without exception the short stories all have an o1TU1.isoent narrator.
located outside the story, who narrates in the third person Singular. This
narrator knows everything there is to know about the characters.
As many critics have observed. Garcia Marquez's short stones often
depict a narrative structure where there are at least two forces in
position, as is the case in "Isabel's Monologue." Isabel tells her story as
"Monologue of Isabel Watcbing It Rain in
The Short Stories
ill "Isabel's Monologue" the reader is agam introduced to the character
of Isabel, who is one of the main characters in Leaf Stann (see Chapter
"Isabel's Monologue" can be read as a story that was lntentionally not
included in Lenf Storm or that was deleted from it. ill "Isabel's
Monologue," she does not mention the doctor, whose corpse is a focal for the other characters' mediations and actions in Lenf Storm. The
strained relationship between Isabel and her husband. Martin. a rela-
tionship alluded to in Leaf Stann, Is dramatized in "Isabel's Monologue."
Her father the colonel, who was a dominant character in Leaf Storm,
appears in this story without his military title. Isabel also never refers to
the major role he played in marrying her to Martfn. Unlike Lea! Storm.
where she is the mother of a precocious ten-year-old. in the short story
she is five months pregnant with the child.
The time frame of the narrative can be measured by four consecutive
days and nights of torrential rain. The persistence of the rain 15 central
to the narrative.
As 10 Leaf Storm. time in "Isabel's Monologue" is marked by the sounrl-
she recalls matters, but her own husband denies the accuracy, and even
the reality, of some of her observations. In another example. in
zar's Marvelous Afternoon," there are two forces represented by social
and economic class, the rich and the poor. In "Big Mama's Funeral," Big
Mama is placed m opposition to the townsfolk. In "Tuesday Siesta" as
well as In "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," an outsider distuIbs
the peace of the town.
All five stories are also characterized by the pervasive presence of the
irrational and the supernatural. In "A Very Old Man with Enonnous
Wings," for example. the old man not only has wings, but also uses them
to fly.
Another characteristic 15 that each short story depicts. in some detail,
the daily life of a Hisparuc rural town, with its sacred rituals and secular
celebrations. induding Sunday-morning church attendance and the al-
most spontaneous appearance of a small fair or carnival as a way to
mark the unusuaL
The following 15 a brief synopSiS of the five stories based on their
narrative structure.
GabrIel Garcia Marquez 64
!l I
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-PubliCiltion Dala
Pelayo. Rubl!n. 1954-
Gabriel Gl\rda Marquez. ; a critical companion / Rubl!n Pelayo.
p. cm._{Crltica! complU\.lons 10 popular contemporary wrilers. ISSN 1082-4979)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-313-31260-5 (alk. paJ'erJ
1. Gl\rcia Marquez. Gabriel, 1918- -CritiCism and interpretation, 1. Title.
11. Series
PQ8180.17.A73Z665 2001
863'.64-dc21 2001023337
British LIbrary Catalogumg tn publicahOn Data is available.
Copyright e 2001 by Rub!!n Pelayo
All righls reserved. No portion of this book may be
reproduced, by any process or technique. withoul the
express written consent of the publisher.
Library oC Congress Catalog Card Number: 2001023331
ISBN: 0-313-31260-5
ISSN: 1062-4979
First published in 2001
Greenwood Press. 88 Post Rand West, Westport, CT 06881
An imprint of Greenwood Publishing Group. Inc.
Printed in Ule UnIled Slates of America
The paper used in this book complies with the
Permanent Paper StiUldard issued by the National
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>,. ,
1 dedicate this bool
Gerald A, Lamb. my ad
and to the memory of
CdUcal CompmloM 10 Populu Conlempor;uy Wrlll:r5
Second Serlu
lull" Ah'llrC:l by Sifl'io Sir/Ill
RudaUo A. MIlY" by Mnr8ar/Jt Ftnlnl/du Ofilia,
MiaYl\ Anselou by Mnry lallt trlp/orl
R"l Bradbury by Robin "'Wit lttirl
Laube Efdrlc:h fly !..Drt'lIrt L Slollkry
Ernest 1- C"lnes by Kartll unurl'lJ1
lohn hying by}lult fl, Cnlll},"dl
Cnrbon Keillor "y Mrrrdrt SOllser
Jamlllcia !<1ncaid by Liwbd/l Pnrhl'iJlllf.GdltrJ
Blilbull Kin"ol"ef by Mnry ItllU DtMrrrt
Maxlne Hong Kingston by E. 0 ..
Tefty McMl11an by Pnultllt me/lntd,
Larry McMuftf)' by 101m M. Rtllty
Toni Marlisan fly MiJSY Dtflll
Chlilm Polak by SlInfimJ Sltmlidr'
Amy TlIn by E., D HUlillty
Anne Tyler by PIIII' Bnil
Leon Utls by KD'fJlwl Sltillt enin
Gloria Naylor by Clrnrlu Jr,
A Critical Companion
J1.uben Pelayo
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