A very old man with enormous wings
The spider-woman’s significance in the story is more of a dualistic comparison between two supernatural identities and the reaction of the people around it. Marquez’s theme on magic realism greatly applies in this context; it focuses on the natural reaction of people surrounding such unusual appearances in normal precepts of living. Although the old angel came first, the people centered their attention on the spider rather than on the angel. It was far more bizarre and interesting to see a talking spider recounting her experiences on how she became such rather than communicate to an old man with rotting wings who could not even speak properly. It was fascinating to see the people’s reaction surrounded by two supernatural beings. Thus, human interest is what separates the two supernatural characters. However, the difference lies on how the people treated them. The angel would have been naturally regarded as a saint, but the people, upon hearing from the priest that he did not speak “the language of God,” immediately dismissed the idea of the man being a minister from God (Marquez 392). Instead, the people treated him as though he were a fantastic selection for a side reel that would amount to an attraction when visiting the town. On the other hand, the spider woman captivated the people’s attention and interest more than the old angel. She could talk and would narrate how she became a spider when asked. Soon, the angel began to lose popularity.
Hence, the presence of the spider woman in the story provided the people a renewed sense of interest.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings.” Collected Stories.
Trans. Gregory Rabassa and J.S. Bernstein. New York: Harper, 1984. 387-393.