In "And of Clay Are We Created," what is the relationship between Rolf Carlé and the narrator?

In “And of Clay We Are Created,” the relationship between Rolf Carle and the narrator is that of lovers. Both are journalists, and yet they are physically and emotionally separated by the mudslide accident that tragically claims the life of a little girl.

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The narrator in this story is Rolf Carlé's lover. She is miles away while Rolf is attempting to calm and comfort the young woman who has become stuck in a mudpit in the aftermath of an earthquake. However, she does her best to provide support by being with him in...

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The narrator in this story is Rolf Carlé's lover. She is miles away while Rolf is attempting to calm and comfort the young woman who has become stuck in a mudpit in the aftermath of an earthquake. However, she does her best to provide support by being with him in spirit and attempting to leverage her contacts to have help sent to the site.

While Rolf stays at Azucena's side, Eva Luna supports them in every way that she can from a distance. She tries unsuccessfully to get a pump sent to the site, and shows her love ahd compassion by trying to help Rolf through her "force of mind."

Eva Luna watches for three days and three nights as Rolf holds his vigil at Azucena's side. At the point when Rolf and Azucena have to accept that they cannot change anything, and that Azucena will die, Eva Luna mourns with them from across the distance.

It seems inevitable that Rolf enduring this trauma will create an emotional gap between Rolf and Eva, because much as she supports him, he must endure the experience and witness the girl's eventual death alone. The event brings to the surface other traumas that Rolf has experienced in his life, and the story ends with him needing to take time to allow various emotional wounds to heal.

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Although Rolf Carlé and the narrator Eva Luna are lovers, their relationship isn't quite as close as it might be. To a large extent, this is because they have different jobs in the news media, and this often keeps them apart, both physically and emotionally. When Rolf heads off to Colombia to report on a devastating mudslide, Eva can only watch from a distance as the events unfold on live television.

The two lovers are also emotionally separated by Rolf's traumatic childhood experiences. Although Rolf is able to relate these experiences to Azucena, the dying little girl trapped by the mudslide, after he returns from his latest assignment, it's notable that he remains withdrawn. The cathartic expression of his deepest traumas has clearly not helped, and Eva finds him a changed man, and not in a good way.

There's little doubt that, when the tragedy is finally over, Eva still loves Rolf as much as she ever did. But by the close of the story, it's clear that their relationship is likely to face many trials and tribulations ahead. This is because Rolf has become more troubled and more self-contained due to the disturbing range of emotions that has been stirred up by his experiences in reporting on the mudslide.

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"And of Clay Are We Created" is a short story by Isabel Allende from her 1989 anthology The Stories of Eva Luna. The narrator, unnamed in the story, is Eva Luna, a documentarian and the lover of Rolf Carlé, a reporter who goes to cover a volcanic eruption and becomes emotionally attached to a young girl who has been trapped in heavy mud, unable to move.

Early in the story, the narrator says:

When the station called before dawn, Rolf Carlé and I were together. I crawled out of bed, dazed with sleep, and went to prepare coffee while he hurriedly dressed. He stuffed his gear in the green canvas backpack he always carried, and we said goodbye, as we had so many times before. I had no presentiments. I sat in the kitchen, sipping my coffee and planning the long hours without him, sure that he would be back the next day.

They have been separated by his work many times before. His leaving to cover a story is nothing new, and the narrator takes it all in stride. As the story wears on and takes its emotional toll on Carlé, the narrator says:

The screen reduced the disaster to a single plane and accentuated the tremendous distance that separated me from Rolf Carlé; nonetheless, I was there with him. The child's every suffering hurt me as it did him; I felt his frustration, his impotence.

Deeply connected to Carlé's suffering, the narrator attempts to use influence in media to arrange help, but cannot, and feels as helpless as Carlé does on the impersonal television screen. Without a connection, the narrator is forced to infer what Carlé is feeling and thinking, and despite the tragedy of the story and Carlé's descent into guilt and sorrow, the narrator remains optimistic:

You are back with me, but you are not the same man. ... Your cameras lie forgotten in a closet; you do not write or sing; you sit long hours before the window, staring at the mountains. Beside you, I wait for you to complete the voyage into yourself, for the old wounds to heal. I know that when you return from your nightmares, we shall again walk hand in hand, as before.
(All Quotes: Allende, "And of Clay Are We Created," teacherweb.com)

Carlé had done everything he could to save the girl, but he is still obsessed with the story because he spent so much time investing himself in it. The narrator, on the other hand, was invested through Carlé but not in the story itself; recognizing that Carlé needs to come to his own reconciliation with the event, the narrator takes the role of supporter, being strong where Carlé cannot so that when he is able to accept that he was not responsible and that his actions eased the last days of a young girl, they can be together as before, instead of separated by the story.

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