When reading any work of fiction, it is highly important to consider what the themes of that particular story might be. The theme expresses the main purpose of the fictional work to the audience and essentially has some type of meaning. Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Flannery O’Conner both demonstrate in their works, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” and “Good Country People” the importance of theme. Marquez and O’Conner’s themes prove good versus evil when making judgement based on appearances.
In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” the old man who omes to the small town looks unordinary to the people living here. “After the discovery of the stranger, six interpretations of his significance arise within the story,” (Slomski 1). The characters in this story all had a different view point on who the old man was, what he wanted, and whether or not he was good are bad, basing it off their interpretation of his appearance. The first interpretation was made based of his voice, Pelayo decided he must have been a lonely castaway because he sounded like a sailor.
The neighbor bases her interpretation on the fact that he as wings so he must be an angel that was sent. The next couple explanations are that the man may be the mayor of the world, a general, or a man that will take charge of the universe. In “Good Country People” Mrs Hopewell lives with her daughter and has a women working on her farm in Georgia. “She prides herself on her solid common sense and ability to read people, yet she lacks both of these assets. To Mrs.
Hopewell, the bible salesman was “good country people” and much more reputable than the “trash” who had previously lived on her farm,” (Constantakis 1). Manley Porter comes to the door nd because he is just a boy selling bibles to make some money for himself, Mrs Hopewell sees him as just “good country people”. She only bases this because of how he approaches her and immediately decides to just invite him to dinner.
Marquez’s story really shows how people judge others that are different or strange from what they are used to. But when they went out into the courtyard with the first light of dawn, they found the whole neighborhood in front of the chicken coop having fun with the angel, without the slightest reverence, tossing him things to eat through the openings in the wire as if e weren’t a supernatural creature but a circus animal,” (357). Just because the old man acts different, doesn’t speak the same language as the people that live there, looks funny with his huge wings, the people surrounding him treat him like dirt.
They throw things at him and lock him up with the chickens. The towns people show how certain people will treat “outsiders” and the people they think don’t belong in society based on what they look like. Since Mrs. Hopewell believes that “Good country people are the salt of the earth,” (439), she does not see the evil in the world. This concept leads her to let Manley into her home because she cannot see passed the sympathetic front he puts on. “I know you’re a Christian because I can see it in every line of your face,” (438).
Mrs. Hopewell says this to Manley Pointer when she first meets him. She think that just because he is selling bibles and apparently has the same condition as her daughter that he is good country people. When in all reality Manley is making up anything to get close to them. It is debatable whether or not the old man is there for good or not because no one can actually communicate with him. “The arrator does hazard at least one judgment of character, offering that “His only supernatural virtue seemed to be patience” (207).
One might, of course, be inclined to question the reliability of a narrator who cannot resist referring to the winged old man as an “angel,” even as he concentrates on the character’s non-angelic aspects of behavior and appearance,” (McFarland 1). Angell’s are pinned as a spiritual figure who are there for guidance and protection. The old man is referred several times as being an angel based on his enormous wings, meanwhile it is said that his behavior is not that of an angel.
The people become scared of him not knowing what his reactions are going to be yet some are still calling him an angel because they just don’t know where he has come from. The Freeman’s live with Hulga and her mother because Mr. and Mrs. Freeman works for them on the farm. Mrs. Hopewell also refers to them as “good country people” because they were not trash and Mrs. Freeman was into all of the responsibilities given to her. “Mrs. Freeman stands out as the only character in the story who “sees through” the illusions of the Hopewell household.
When she says “some can’t be as simple” as Pointer, he means that she herself could never fall prey to the flimflam antics to which Mrs. Hopewell and Hulga have succumbed,” (Edwards, 1). Mrs. Freeman exemplifies how she can see past what Manley Pointer puts off when he first approaches the farm. She did not judge he based off his stories and description of himself but instead could see he was a fake because she knows that not all people are there for good. On the other hand Mrs.
Hopewell and Hulga did not see that not everyone is good country people because they say and look like they are. Marquez puts the thought into a person’s mind that things ay not be what we always thought they would be. “He creates a tension between the old man’s magical and human qualities, leaving us unable to fit the character into a comfortable mental category. The old man is far too human and decrepit to match our cultural image of angels: perfect, powerful, majestic, immortal. Nor does he appear to be a heavenly messenger,” (Faulkner 1).
The image of angels are that of a few qualities that the man has but not all that is why everyone is so judgmental of the old man. It puts that question of good versus evil into play, because if he is an angel there is no way he can be ad, but if he is not an angel he must be pretending to be one since he partially looks like one. Half of the town people see him as maybe the angel that will cure the sick child or a great evil who will destroy everyone in sight. Hulga Hopewell is a miserable person who takes pride in being an atheist.
When she meets Manley Porter she thinks she can show him the true meaning of life instead of him believing in Christianity. She thinks he is an innocent country boy with glasses like hers, the same heart condition and his job he apparently has as a bible salesmen. “But she is blind to reality, aving knowledge only of books and abstract ideas, rather than of people and concrete objects,” (Oliver 1). Hulga only goes by what she thinks to be right based on what Manley seems to be to her.
In all reality Manley ends up showing her he is not the perfect Christian she thinks he is because of how he first acted. Hulga ends up learning that she could never see the true meaning of anything or anyone because she only cared about her own troubles. Her own troubles caused her to be blind and able to see the reality of the good and evil in the world without basing them off her own judgments. When reading these stories, the themes are showing what someone’s judgement can lead to in the face of good and evil.
There needs to be less judgment on appearances and more of waiting to judge until actually interacting with the other person. Marquez and O’Connor both demonstrate the importance of judgment in “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” and “Good Country People. ” Everyone sees what they want to see in something else based on how the world views them and what is on the outside instead of what they are really about on the inside and what their actual intentions are.