And of Clay Are We Created Summary

Isabel Allende

and of clay are we created

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And of Clay Are We Created Summary

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“And of Clay Are We Created” is a short story by Chilean-American author, Isabel Allende, which appears in her 1989 collection The Stories of Eva Luna. It is based on the true story of Omayra Sanchez, who was a young victim of an earthquake in Colombia in 1985. The story is told from the perspective of Eva Luna, who was a character in one of Allende’s novels. The author did not write short stories until many readers of her work expressed an interest in hearing the tales referred to by Eva Luna in Allende’s eponymous novel, Eva Luna.

As the story begins, thirteen-year-old Azucena is neck deep in a mud pit. She is one of thousands of residents living in a village on a mountain slope in Latin America. A volcanic eruption is melting the ice on the mountain, causing mudslides that have decimated entire villages and towns and killed thousands of people. The narrator is watching the news of the events on television as it is delivered by her lover Rolf Carle, who is the first reporter to arrive at the scene. Carle and his assistant film the rescue attempts and he ends up assisting too, going waist deep into the mud and approaching the girl with a rope to tie under her arms. He reassures her that she will be safe soon. Azucena is in pain as the mud has too strong a hold on her for her to be pulled free. She feels something holding her legs and when told it is probably debris from her house, she fears that it is actually the bodies of her now dead brothers and sisters.

The narrator has seen Carle deliver the news many, many times and no matter how important the event, he has always in her mind been totally objective. She is aware, however, this time that he is losing this objectivity and becoming emotionally connected to Azucena. Carle does in fact move from his position as a reporter and tries everything he can to free the girl from the mud, but is unsuccessful. He puts a tire under her shoulders to prevent her from sinking more deeply into the mud. He calls for a pump to be used to try to drain the water around her but finds that none will be available until the next day. Carle does not leave the girl, remaining with her through the night. He tells her stories of things he has experienced to help keep her calm.

In the city the narrator continues to watch what is going on. She goes to the television station so that she can see the satellite transmissions being sent by Carle, rather than just what goes over the air. She gets involved in the rescue attempt as well. She calls government officials and businesses in an attempt to locate a pump, and even puts out calls for one on radio and television. These attempts fail to bring results. She too becomes emotionally involved with the young girl, crying as she watches what is transpiring. She realizes that Carle has become unaware of the presence of a television camera and is showing a level of exhaustion that she has never seen him reach before.

Other news organizations have now become involved and a crowd of reporters has gathered. Pictures of Azucena and Carle are seen around the world. A doctor examines the girl and a priest offers a blessing. In spite of the presence of so much equipment and technology utilized by the media, still no pump can be located. It is nearing the end of the second day of the situation and Azucena and Carle are talking and praying together. He has depleted his collection of personal stories to share with her so begins to tell her stories of the narrator, as well as sharing folk songs he learned when he was a child. As he continues to calm the girl, he recalls times from his own youth that he had not remembered for years, including burying bodies at a concentration camp, his abusive father, the fears of his disabled sister, and feelings of humiliation experienced by his mother. He does not tell these things to Azucena but becomes more introspective than he has ever been. He feels just as trapped as the young girl and feels more connected to her than he has ever felt to another person. By the dawning of the third day both Carle and Azucena are physically drained.

The president of the Republic arrives and is filmed with the girl. He calls her an example for all others and promises to provide a pump. Unfortunately, this promise comes too late. The narrator is watching the events on television and can sense that the time has arrived when both Azucena and Carle have given up all hope and believe that death is imminent;  they have both stopped struggling. The narrator has arranged for a pump to be sent but the girl dies on the third night. Carle removes the tire from her shoulders and she sinks into the mud. Carle returns home but does not return to work, instead he watches footage of his time with Azucena over and over, trying to figure out what more he could have done to help her. The narrator promises him that the wounds the situation opened up in him will eventually heal.

Publishers Weekly said of Allende’s story collection, “Allende’s inventiveness justifies her own comparisons of her literary creation to Scheherazade, and throughout all these short works whispers the mysticism of Eva Luna herself-her well-placed faith in a world of spirits and in the immortality of human love.”