Study Guide

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings The Supernatural

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The Supernatural

Any time you get a guy with wings running around in your story, it's a pretty good bet that the supernatural is one of the themes. In "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," we get dueling views on just what the winged old man means in terms of the creepy, spiritual, and otherwise supernatural. A neighbor lady, and many of the crowds, believes that the old man is an angel. The town priest, however, wants to do further testing. The point? The story gives us a look at everyday people's reaction to their contact with the unexplained. It's like Unsolved Mysteries, only without Robert Stack or the creepy soundtrack.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Okay, which is it? Is the old man just an old man with wings, or is he an angel? Or something else? Why do you think so?
  2. The story treats the supernatural as though it were an everyday occurrence. The people don't seem to be too particularly surprised that an angel has crash-landed into their town. How does this attitude affect your reading of the story?
  3. What would happen if the very old man with enormous wings landed in your backyard? Would the outcome be any different from what happens in the story?

Chew on This

In "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," the supernatural stands in for anything that is different, to show how we treat outsiders.

The story shows the way that both rational and irrational responses to the supernatural are laughable, and points out how gullible people can be. (By the way, did you know that the word "gullible" isn't in the dictionary?)

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