The rising action of a piece of literature consists of the events after the exposition which lead up to the most pivotal point of the story. There are a number of events in “And of Clay We Are Created” by Isabel Allende leading up to the climax.
The exposition explains the early consequences of the volcanic eruption on the terrain, small villages, and people living in its path.
One of the first events of the rising action occurs when Rolf Carlé comes upon Azucena buried in the mire. He attempts to reach her but is unable to and has to backtrack until he can get close enough to her to assess her situation. How will he help her the reader wonders?
When he realizes how dire her situation is, he calls for help to slip a rope under her arms. It was impossible to reach her from the approach he was attempting, so he retreated and circled around where there seemed to be firmer footing. When he was finally close enough, he took the rope and tied it beneath her arms, so the men could pull her out.
As the men attempt to pull the girl out of the muck, they realize something more than mud is holding her down. She tells them her brothers and sisters are hanging onto her legs. This creates both suspense and a complication. How will the rescuers remove the little girls from the mud?
He signaled the others to pull, but as soon as the cord tensed, the girl screamed. They tried again, and her shoulders and arms appeared, but they could move her no farther; she was trapped. Someone suggested that her legs might be caught in the collapsed walls of her house, but she said it was not just rubble, that she was also held by the bodies of her brothers and sisters clinging to her legs.
Rolf makes numerous attempts to save the girl. He employs a pole as a lever but is unsuccessful. At one point, he even dives under the mud to release her. Each attempt is unsuccessful, and his frustration rises. He calls for someone to bring a pump but is told it will be the next day before equipment can be brought in. Once again he is frustrated and develops a method to soothe the girl through the night as she is prevented from slipping under the mud by a tire under her arms. He allows himself dream of a positive outcome to the situation. Will his attempts be met with success?
Rolf Carlé, buoyed by a premature optimism, was convinced that everything would end well: the pump would arrive, they would drain the water, move the rubble, and Azucena would be transported by helicopter to a hospital where she would recover rapidly and where he could visit her and bring her gifts.
As you continue reading the story, you will find more events that contribute to the rising action prior to the story’s climax and resolution.