And of Clay Are We Created

by Isabel Allende

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How might the story And of Clay Are We Created change if it were narrated by Rolfe Carle or Azucena?

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Each protagonist of this Isabel Allende novel has a very different motivation and life trajectory, so each would likewise offer a distinct narrative. Among the significant differences are the primary one—survival—and age, gender, occupation, and nationality. A similarity between the two protagonists is that both were participants and eye-witnesses who could speak from the scene, as opposed to the current narrator, who presents what she sees on television. While the other differences are definitely significant, one cannot ignore the fact that Azucena does not survive her ordeal; a writer would have to decide from what point of view her narrative would be produced. Rolfe’s situation is not quite the same, of course, because he lives to return home and share his ordeal, but Allende makes it clear that his involvement in the rescue attempt will change him forever.

Changing Azucena into the narrator would influence the extent to which her bravery and resilience could be emphasized. As she is a sensitive, caring person, she would be unlikely to highlight her own heroism. Instead, she would probably express gratitude to those who were trying to free her and the others. The reader might gain more information about her life and her family. The author would have to decide if she should present Azucena's entire story in a fantastic way, reflecting on her death from beyond the grave, or stop the story before she actually passes away.

Similarly, Rolfe is presented in light of his girlfriend’s admiration for his compassion as she beholds it from afar, broadcast for all the world to see. She can only imagine his thoughts and connect what she is viewing to her knowledge of him as a person. It would be illuminating to hear what actually went through his mind as this journalist moved from spectator to active participant.

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Whenever you get a question like this, stop and think about the characteristics of the people. If Azucena told the story, what things could she tell us that the narrator can't? From Azucena's point of view, we could know how Azucena feels being stuck and the pain she feels. We would know how she feels about Rolfe and what they say to each other for the three days. Rolfe Carle changes in this story. For the first time, he's unable to remain objective about the story he's reporting because he becomes involved personally in what Azucena is going through. He grieves for her at the end and through this experience, Rolfe confronts his own pain from the past and begins his healing. Rolfe would fill us in on his past from his perspective, how he feels about Azucena, and how he feels when she dies. We would also know how Rolfe feels after Azucena dies and how he's trying to cope with what happened.

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