The Very Old Man Essay, Research Paper
In the two stories, “The Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, one of the major themes is the equality of individuals in society. In each of the stories both of the main characters are faced with the challenge to prove their equality. The equality of individuals in society is based upon superficial expectations, which violate the person on display and forces him or her to conform.
In society today every person has superficial expectations placed upon him or her. Power, appearance and wealth are the factors that contribute to acceptance. In the story, The Very Old Man With Enormous Wings, the old man is an angel, but the people in the town do not accept him because he is not glowing and heavenly. People come from all over and abruptly judge the angel on looks alone without ever speaking to him. The people see only his age and the condition of his feathers, disregarding his inner qualities.
Wealth and power in our society are expected to be accepted. Wealth, whether it is self made or inherited, gives the person a certain aura that he or she is now superior to all those who do not have as much money as he or she. People with wealth usually have power of some kind also. Whether it is being CEO of a big corporation or someone who runs his or her own successful small business, they still have the notion that they are powerful. In the story, Harrison Bergeron, the son escapes to help stop the equalization of the individuals in his community and the Handicapper General kills him. The Handicapper General is powerful and will not receive penalization for her actions. She has the assumption that she has made the people of her society what they are, so she can do to them as she pleases. In society, people who have wealth and power deem that if one is not wealthy and powerful they do not have the same status as he or she does, this is superficial in the sense that people are being judged on the amount of money and power they have. Nothing else seems to matter.
Violation of individuals, famous or not, runs rampart throughout our society today. People point out the faults of others without looking at their own inability to look, act or be a certain way. In the story, A Very Old Man , the people that came to see the old angel man pointed out his faults. The Latin priest decided the man could not be an angel because he did not speak Latin, which the priest said was the universal language of God. If the old angel man was radiant and divine the priest would not have disrespected him or let people make a mockery of him.
In Harrison Bergeron, all inhabitants of the society were violated in the way that they were made as equal as possible. The prettier a person was the more repulsive a mask they had to wear to make them average-looking and vice versa. In addition, the more intelligent a person was, the louder and more frequent was the ringing in his or her ears to distract him from his or her intelligent thoughts. Nevertheless, in that perfect man made society, as equal as everyone was they were just as unequal. The people knew that if a girl had the most unattractive mask of the group that she was strikingly beautiful. Moreover, the people knew that the more intelligence a person possessed the larger the ear device. In actuality, no one was equal, but even more unequal than before. Therefore this proves that these individuals were violated even more so for being his or her own person.
In our society, people gossip about others and tear them down without even realizing they have many faults also. In A Very Old Man.. the old angel, man is flaunted by Pelayo and his wife. The old angel man was slandered and torn down by the inhabitants of the city for doing nothing but being washed up on shore and being caged up. The people who came from near and afar had the old angel man judged before they even got to where he was on display. They gave him no chance to stand up for himself. That is much of what society does today because it does not give people the opportunity to stand up for themselves.
Forceful conformity is an aspect of equality that everyone experiences. Everyone is forced to conform to the norm of everyday life, either by peer pressure, materialistic items or appearance. Peer pressure is the most forceful way of making a person conform. Peer pressure starts in primary school. When one child is involved in something and does not want to be alone, he or she will attempt to lure another child in to participate with them.
In A Very Old Man the old angel man is being forced to conform to the watchers. The people came and tried to make him eat mothballs, because they thought it best for his well being. They came for they old man to heal them. However, in no way did the old angel man conform, he stayed true to what he thought right. Many people in society today conform when they know what they are doing is not right. People conform because it makes others accept them. It was evident that the old angel man did not worry about being accepted because he did not conform to what others thought was best for him.
The sad thing in the A Very Old Man.. was that they people never accepted him for who he was. They thought he should have performed miracles or spoke the language of God. The only time the old angel man was not being expected to do great things was when the people moved on to spider girl. In society today people are always looking for a spider girl, to capture their attention on. In addition, in “Harrison Bergeron” the population was forced to conform to all being average and equal. The people had not choice whether or not to choose to wear a mask or have ringing in their ears. Accepted people in society today are the ones who conform to what others want.