Unlike many novelists, Isabel Allende did not train as a fiction writer by creating short stories before moving on to novels. Her first three works of fiction were novels, and she did not turn to the short story form until readers of Eva Luna asked to see the stories the title character refers to. ‘‘And of Clay Are We Created’’ was written specifically for the 1989 collection The Stories of Eva Luna. The story is about a young girl who is trapped in a mudslide, and a reporter, Rolf Carlé, who is sent in his television helicopter to cover her rescue. Unable to maintain his reporter’s objectivity, he joins in the unsuccessful rescue attempt, and then stays with the girl until she dies. As he talks with the girl over a period of days, Carlé remembers and begins to address his own youthful suffering, which he has repressed for many years. At a further remove, the girl and the reporter are being watched on television by the narrator, Carlé’s lover, who experiences the pain of both.
Allende has often spoken about ‘‘And of Clay Are We Created’’ and its importance to her. The characters of the television reporter and his lover are both based on Allende’s own experiences in journalism. In an interview with Marilyn Berlin Snell, she explains that the plot of the story is also based on fact: ‘‘This story really occurred. In 1985, we saw her on every television screen in the world, the face of Omaira Sánchez, one of the thousands of victims of Colombia’s Nevado Ruiz volcanic eruption. The black eyes of that girl have haunted me. . . . She is telling me something. She is talking to me about patience, about endurance, about courage.’’ Reviewers of The Stories of Eva Luna have praised Allende’s ability to adapt historical events into fiction, as she does in ‘‘And of Clay Are We Created.’’