And Of Clay Are We Created Theme

What is the theme in "And of Clay Are We Created"?

One of the most important themes of "And of Clay Are We Created" is the perennial struggle between humankind and the environment. More often than not, it is humankind that is on the losing end of this struggle, as is demonstrated by the death of the little girl Azucena, trapped by a mudslide and unable to be freed by the latest technology.

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I would argue that the three main themes in And of Clay Are We Created­ are the power of nature, loyalty, and helplessness.

The power of nature is evidenced in the situation that young Azucena has found herself in. Thanks to a volcanic eruption that has sent mudslides into many local villages, Azucena has been swallowed, up to her neck, by a mud pit. A series of natural disasters have left Azucena in a terrifying predicament and ultimately lead to her death.

The theme of loyalty is introduced by the Rolfe Carle, the partner of our narrator. He transforms from being an objective newsreader, present in the area to inform and observe, to being an emotionally involved lifeline for Azucena. His growing emotional involvement inspires him to stay with her throughout the last days and nights of her life, providing encouragement and telling stories to distract her from her predicament.

The theme of helplessness is powerfully and heartbreakingly portrayed in this story. Our narrator does everything possible to try and locate a pump that could save the girl’s life. All her efforts are futile, and while the President of Colombia eventually promises a pump, it proves to be an empty promise. Both Rolfe and Eva Luna remain unable to help the girl, despite their deep emotional involvement and desire to save her.

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The struggle between humans and the natural world has been explored time and again in countless plays, novels, poems, and stories. "And of Clay Are We Created" is one of many such examples. In Allende's short story, the struggle is won decisively by nature, despite man's extraordinary technological advances.

Technology may have given Rolf Carle and other members of the international news media the wherewithal to broadcast live reports all over the world, but it cannot save the life of a little girl trapped by an enormous mudslide. In taking the life of Azucena, the forces of nature have scored yet another victory over human civilization.

The impotence of science and technology in the face of nature is further illustrated by the inability of seismologists and geologists to determine the precise time of the volcano's eruption, the very eruption that set off the massive mudslide that has caused so much death and destruction.

But even if these scientists were able to know when a volcano would erupt, they would not be able to do anything to stop it. In the event, the scientists find themselves in the exact same position as Rolf. They can only stand by and watch while nature takes its inexorable course.

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The main themes in "And of Clay Are We Created"are the fragility of life, the fearful power of nature, and the determination of the human spirit.

In the story, the devastation caused by the volcanic eruption reinforces the fragility of life and the formidable power of nature. The text tells us that the eruption broke loose "walls of snow" and buried the villages under "unfathomable meters of telluric vomit." No one had expected the immense sheets of snow to melt. The resulting avalanche of "clay, stones, and water" submerged all the "houses, plazas, churches, white cotton plantations, dark coffee forests, cattle pastures" in its path.

We are told that "more than twenty thousand human beings" and an "indefinite number of animals" lay "putrefying in a viscous soup." The frightening visual imagery highlights the destruction caused by nature and the ephemeral reality of life.

The most pivotal characters in the story, however, are Azucena and Rolf Carle. Their collective resolve and courage highlight all that is exemplary in human nature. The text tells us that Rolf Carle exhausts "all the resources of his ingenuity" to save Azucena. Despite his efforts, however, he is not able to free the brave little girl from her muddy tomb. In dying with dignity and courage, Azucena inspires Carle to confront his own fears. Together, they stare death in the face and battle their demons. Their story highlights the depth of the human spirit and humanity's tenuous hold on life.

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This highly interesting story seems to have many themes, not just one. Clearly one of the key topics of the story concerns the relationship between Azucena and Rolf Carle, and the way in which this experience enables Rolf to face certain memories of his past and childhood. If you are interested, these are featured in Isabel Allende's novel, Eva Luna. The traumatic experience of watching Azucena slowly die breaks down the barriers within Rolf Carle:

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 of memory poured out, leveling before it hte obstacles that had blocked his consciousness for so long.

The connection between them and the intimacy which they are forced into means that Rolf recognises how his past resembles Azucena's present:

He was Azucena; he was buried in the clayey mud; his terror was not the distant emotion of an almost forgotten childhood, it was a claw sunk in his throat.

As Rolf says to Azucena after this night of revelation, he is not crying for Azucena, but for himself, for he hurts all over.

The title seems to suggest that for individuals like Rolf, tragedies such as that of Azucena confront us with our own fragility - we are made of clay - a breakable, fragile substance, even though so often we try to live our lives as if we are unbreakable and stronger.

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