What struck me most about this story was the multitude of people that came to visit the old man under the assumption that he was an angel. As soon as people heard that an angel had been discovered in a random sea-side town they began pilgrimages from nearly everywhere to see him. What intrigued me was that these people believed in the man’s supernatural origins with little to no reason why, but then quickly abandoned their fervor at just about the same pace. Once they heard that the man had wings, they assumed he was an angel.
So, I guess the question I asked myself was what allows us to distinguish between the divine and the unusual? I think in the case of this story it is very difficult to tell. Once the old woman determines that the man is an angel it becomes common knowledge. However, the priest continues to look for tangible evidence. He needs the old man’s authenticity as an angel to be verified by the church. This is at odds with what the church teaches. Believing in God means believing in something intangible and unverifiable, however, the priest is the first person to doubt the old man’s credibility. The priest remains unable to identify the old man as an angel before the crowds of people abandon him in search of the next source of wonder.
Garcia-Marquez seems to be implying that people follow religion because of the sense of wonder that it can make them feel, but the clergyman in the story appears to lack this element. This again leaves me wondering what makes something worth believing in. I think the crowd of people in the story made it clear that the sense of wonder associated with religion is what makes something worth believing in. However, I think that this sensation can be accompanied by the tangible and real, as in the case of the old man and the spider woman, making it more impactful to an audience. People are constantly looking for something other than themselves to pin their hopes on and I think that is what is happening in this story.