This study will provide a comparative analysis of two short stories, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings" and Franz Kafka's "A Hunger Artist." The study will be grounded in the most basic similarity--both Marquez's angel and Kafka's hunger artist are entirely misunderstood by the world--and the most basic difference--the thoughts of the angel are completely unknown to the reader, while the thoughts of the hunger artist are spelled out clearly.
Despite the latter point, however, the two characters are equally mysterious. Kafka reveals much of the thought process of the hunger artist, and even appears to explain the source of the character's compulsion, but in the end both the angel and the hunger artist remain mysteries both to the worlds in which they dwell and to the reader.
Other similarities and differences flow from this basic root of mystery: both are in a cage of sorts, though the hunger artist is free to leave when he wishes, and the angel is at the end of his tale free to wander about as well; food is of little significance to both characters, though it is of great importance to those around them; both create great interest in others, and then that interest fades away; and, finally, both leave this world as mysterious as ever, with the angel flying away and the hunger artist dying of his art.
The angel is seen at first as a threat. The most plausible explanation of his arrival is that he has come to take away the sick and apparently dying newborn child of Pelayo and Elisenda. This likelihood seems to be quickly forgotten, however, although the angel remains a threat to the town simply because he is an angel.
On the other hand, the angel may just as well have come to save the child, for he regains his health and his appetite shortly after the angel's arrival. In any case, he is an old man as much as an angel, so that the threat dwindles the longer he remains in the town.