Study Guide

The Neighbor Lady in A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings

By Gabriel García Márquez

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The Neighbor Lady

It's never good when your name is "the neighbor lady." This woman may have the reputation for being the town's wise woman, but she has some pretty crazy ideas about the old man.

How crazy? She's the first one to say he's a an angel, but … her follow-up is to recommend killing him:

Against the judgment of the wise neighbor woman, for whom angels in those times were the fugitive survivors of a celestial conspiracy, they did not have the heart to club him to death. (4)

She also has the bright idea of feeding him mothballs, since she claims that's what angels eat. The neighbor lady (unfortunately) serves as the voice of the people in this story. She's religious, but not officially religious like the priest, so she's the mouthpiece for all the semi-religious, wacky ideas that perfectly nice people come up with.

Such as, if you see something you don't understand—kill it.

Celestial What?

So what's with this celestial conspiracy? Well, it probably has something to do with the idea that, back in the days before Adam and Eve snacked on that pesky apple, Satan led a band of rebel angels in a revolt against God.

Given the state of this angel, we have to say that it sounds plausible. Could the old man be not a guardian angel but a bad angel?

Or maybe the better question is—what difference does it make? What does it say about this neighbor lady that her first thought is "bad angel"? (Hint: probably nothing good.)

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