In the short story "And of Clay Are We Created" by Isabel Allende, the author describes the horrific disaster of "an avalanche of clay, stones, and water" that descends upon a town, burying thousands of its residents in viscous mud. The story is told from the perspective of a woman whose lover, Rolf Carle, a newscaster, flies to the disaster and focuses on the plight of one victim, a thirteen-year-old girl named Azucena, who is buried in the mud up to her shoulders. Attempts to pull her out fail, and so Carle remains with her day and night and reports her tragedy to the world. Eventually, she dies in the mud without rescue.
Allende engages readers and pulls them into this tragic event by using all five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch in her descriptions. If you read carefully through the story you will find numerous examples of the engagement of each of the senses.
Allende's visual descriptions of the event are sometimes taken from news camera footage. For instance, in the first paragraph, she writes of Azucena's "head budding like a black squash from the clay" and of Carle being ever-present behind her. Of the disaster, she writes of "walls of snow" breaking loose, "rolling in an avalanche" and burying villages. These are visual images that are difficult for readers to forget.
As for hearing, Allende describes "a prolonged roar" as the avalanche commences, and in the aftermath there is "the weeping of orphans and wails of the injured." Readers become so drawn in by these sounds that they can almost hear them themselves.
Allende uses the sense of smell as she describes "the odor of death" that attracts "vultures from far away." She later writes of humans and animals "putrefying in a viscous soup." By the time Carle finds Azucena, "one could begin to smell the stench of corpses."
The author uses taste in a touching way to contrast the horrid plight of the girl with the mercy and care that Carle is giving her. He brings her warm coffee and helps he drink it "sip by sip." This revives her enough so that she is able to tell Carle about her humble life. By this time, readers are so immersed in Azucena's plight that they can almost taste the revivifying coffee themselves.
As for touch, readers can almost feel the pain and cold along with Azucena as Allende describes the "intolerable torture" as rescuers try to pull her out. She is "shivering inside the tire" that she is clinging to so she won't be sucked into the mud. In the night, she and Carle are "in a stupor of exhaustion and hunger, and shaking from the cold."
We see, then, that Allende draws readers into her heartbreaking story by using descriptions based on impressions from all five senses. As mentioned above, if you read through slowly, you can find many more examples.