Why does the pump arrive shortly after Azucena's death?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Isabel Allende provides irony to her short story “And of Clay We Are Created” when the pump arrives after Azucena’s death. While Rolf Carlé, a news reporter, stays with the little girl, who is buried to her neck in the clay from a volcanic eruption, his girlfriend attempts to secure help for the rescue as she watches from the National television station. Anytime she is not intently watching the action on the television screen, she is making phone calls to officials to get a pump to Rolf Carlé and Azucena so Azucena can be rescued. The situation becomes ironic when the pump arrives the morning after the little girl dies and sinks under the mud. With Rolf at Azucena's side, she put up a valiant struggle, but help came too late to save her. Her struggle and death allow Rolf Carlé to release his internal conflict and emerge as a changed man.

By then I had obtained a pump and was in touch with a general who had agreed to ship it the next morning on a military cargo plane. But on the night of that third day, beneath the unblinking focus of quartz lamps and the lens of a hundred cameras, Azucena gave up, her eyes locked with those of the friend who had sustained her to the end.

The little girl’s story, which had audiences riveted to their television sets, is over before the needed equipment arrives. Although it is too late to save the little girl, the pump becomes a symbol of Rolf’s release and eventual return to life free from the baggage of his past. Azucena's death allows him to live. His girlfriend knows it will take time to heal from this ordeal, but she vows to stand by him.

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.

Read the study guide:
And of Clay Are We Created

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