What is the relationship between Rolf and Azucena? What do they give to each other? What kind of love do they share?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rolf and Azucena share a dynamic relationship in “And of Clay Are We Created” by Isabel Allende.

Originally, when Rolf arrives at the site of the mudslide he is working as a reporter for a major news outlet, but he leaves a changed man. He locates Azucena, the little girl partially buried in the clay. While observing her situation, he realizes her situation is not just a story to be covered as a job. He knows he must stay with her and facilitate her rescue. At first he frantically tries to get aid for her, but as time passes he realizes he has become an emotional support system for the girl. As night falls, she pleads with him to stay with her.

“Don’t leave me alone,” she begged.

“No, of course I won’t leave you.”

During the hours the two spend together, they connected. The little girl demonstrated her bravery as she faced increasingly dire circumstances. As Rolf observes Azucena’s strength, he changes from her support system to a man who bravely faces his difficult past. This is something he never allowed himself to do.  Although, he sets out to save the little girl’s life, she ends up allowing him to face his past so that he can heal and move forward with his life as she loses her.

Do they demonstrate “love”? Can you develop love in three days? In this story, some would say the two characters developed an unconditional love which allows them to bare their hearts and souls to each other.  When help does not arrive, Rolf stays with the little girl, singing and talking to her through the hours. His job as a photo journalist is forgotten, instead he focuses all his attention on bolstering the girl. But as time passes, and she becomes weaker, his disastrous childhood creeps into his consciousness. Although, he cannot tell Azucena all the sordid details, he allows her to have a cathartic effect on him. One of her final expressions is that of never being loved by a boy. Rolf assures her he loves her more than anything. Her death allows him to live a life unencumbered by his past.

Rolf's partner was a distant observer, and she says,

I was there when she told him that in all her thirteen years no boy had ever loved her and that it was a pity to leave this world without knowing love. Rolf assured her that he loved her more than he could ever love anyone, more than he loved his mother, more than his sister, more than all the women who had slept in his arms, more than he loved me, his life companion, who would have given anything to be trapped in that well in her place, who would have exchanged her life for Azucena’s, and I watched as he leaned down to kiss her poor forehead, consumed by a sweet, sad emotion he could not name. I felt how in that instant both were saved from despair, how they were freed from the clay, how they rose above the vultures and helicopters, how together they flew above the vast swamp of corruption and laments. How, finally, they were able to accept death. Rolf Carlé prayed in silence that she would die quickly, because such pain cannot be borne.

Read the study guide:
And of Clay Are We Created

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