Very Old Man with Enormous Wings Symbolism Lesson Plan

The light was so weak at noon that when Mr. Pelayo was coming back to the classroom after throwing away his old lesson plans, it was hard for him to see what it was that was moving and groaning in the rear of the courtyard. He had to go very close to see that it was an old man, a very old man, lying face down in the mud, who, in spite of his tremendous efforts, couldn’t get up, impeded by his enormous wings and a briefcase full of “Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” lesson plans.

He salvaged one of them and sent it to me. I share it with you:

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Analyzing Plot in “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” lesson plan.

"Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" Lesson Plans

If you’re feeling mired in the chicken coop of lesson plans, check out these “Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” lesson plans.

I understand your dilemma. You’re torn. You came here for “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” lesson plan and you have it. You’re intrigued by my clever opening, but don’t want to feel like you’re surfing the internet at work. Don’t worry. I’ve included “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” analysis and summary, too.

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“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” Summary

Pelayo and Elisenda live in a shack near the sea. Although living by the sea sounds nice, this house doesn’t sound nice at all, as evidenced by the influx of crabs that Pelayo has killed and thrown back into the sea.

It’s been raining in Pelayo’s seaside village, so hard, in fact, that an angel has fallen from the sky and landed in the rear of the courtyard in Pelayo’s back yard. One might think an angel landing in the back yard would be cool, but he’s more of a nuisance than a blessing, initially.

He’s not a grand angel, the type that would visit in religious texts, Greek mythology, or a Victoria’s Secret photo shoot. This angel is “a fallen body with a mute stupor.” As if that weren’t a bad enough looking angel, the narrator notes, “He was dressed like a rag picker. There were only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth, and his pitiful condition of a drenched great-grandfather took away any sense of grandeur he might have had. His huge buzzard wings, dirty and half-plucked, were forever entangled in the mud.”

At first, they ignore the whole wings thing and conclude he is a stray sailor. Then the neighbor, an expert on angels, notes the wings and declares the very old man with enormous wings an angel.

Pelayo and Elisenda are advised to club the angel to death, yet refrain. They lock him in the chicken coop. The next morning, after discovering their sick child healed, they decide to set the angel free, give him a raft, and let him fend for himself on the high seas. Before they enact their magnanimous plan, however, they see their neighbors gathered about the angel, treating him irreverently.

The local priest arrives and declares the angel an impostor because he does not understand Latin nor greet him properly.

After the authorities are called in to disperse the crowd that has gathered at the house, Elisenda decides to fence in the yard and charge money for admission. Pilgrims come from miles to satisfy their curiosity and to be healed from strange ailments. Pelayo and Elisenda make a lot of money.

The angel isn’t very much fun to look at. He just kind of sits there as the hens eat the parasites off his wings. Some throw rocks at him. Others cajole him. After a flash of anger, most gaze from a distance. The interest in the very old man with enormous wings comes to an end when a woman changed into a spider as a punishment for disobedience comes to town.

Pelayo and Elisenda are quite happy, having made a lot of money. They turn the home into a two-story house, and build fencing to keep out the crabs. They improve everything about the house, except the chicken coop. The chicken coop collapses and the angel wanders about the house, causing a large inconvenience. The angel gets sick and the two fear he will die soon. He doesn’t die. When spring comes, he sprouts wings and, to the relief of Elisenda, flies away.

“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” Analysis Ideas

  • Magical RealismMagical realism combines realistic events and realistic characters with elements of magic. The story incorporates magic in a matter-of-fact manner.
  • Setting and Mood The entire story takes place in the house of Pelayo and Elisenda. They live in a nameless town in South America a long time ago. The story could have taken place in any nameless town a long time ago.
  • Satire and IronyThe angel, referred to as a very old man with enormous wings, does not attract the marvel that a traditional angel might attract. In fact, the townspeople treat him as a way to make money, something to be picked on, and a nuisance.
  • SymbolismStorms, birds, captive animals, and the very old man represent something more.

Analyzing Plot in “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” Lesson Plan Standards

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  1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  2. Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
  3. Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

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