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.