Isabel Allende herself wrote a lot about the true historical experience that inspired this amazing story. Above all, what inspired Allende to write this tale was the figure of Omaira Sanchez, who is depicted by Azucena in the story. Note what Allende says about her:
Her eyes staring from the television screen have haunted me ever since. I still have her photograph on my desk; again and again I studied it, trying to comprehend the meaning of her martyrdom.
Allende found she had reason to return to this image again later on after writing this short story, when her own daughter died, as she felt she was finally able to "decipher the message in those intense black eyes: patience, courage, resignation, dignity in the face of death."
If we think of these words from the author herself, clearly we could argue that the purpose of this story is to try and communicate the meaning of Azucena's life and death. In particular, what is interesting is the bond that Rolf Carle forms with her and how her suffering forces Rolf Carle to confront his own suffering:
That night, imperceptibly, the unyielding floodgates that had contained Rolf Carle's past for so many years began to open, and the torrent of all that had lain hidden in the deepest and most secret layers ofmemory poured out, leveling before it the obstacles tha thad blocked his consciousness for so long.
In the face of such suffering as Azucena's the story seems to suggest, we are all forced to confront our own suffering and the way that we have repressed it in our lives.