(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

“And of Clay Are We Created,” the last short story in Isabel Allende’s collection The Stories of Eva Luna, is based upon a real event. Omayra Sanchez was a young victim of the 1985 earthquake in Colombia. The story is told by the heroine of Allende’s third novel Eva Luna, whose lover, Rolf Carlé, is the main character. With a carefully crafted plot and delicate images, Allende illustrates the theme of self-discovery through love, the same theme that runs through all the stories in this volume.

The story’s first line, “They discovered the girl’s head protruding from the mudpit, eyes wide open, calling soundlessly,” not only begins the action and sets the story but also establishes the image of the eyes and the theme of insight. The last sentence of the paragraph foreshadows the ending: “Rolf Carlé . . . never suspect[ed] that he would find a fragment of his past, lost thirty years before.”

Rolf finds that past; the girl, Azucena, enables him to close the gap between his experiences and his feelings so he can confront it. Azucena is one of twenty thousand victims of a volcanic eruption that has wiped out an entire Latin American village. Arriving by helicopter, Rolf, a maker of television documentaries, finds himself first on the scene filming the volunteers trying to reach the girl, who is buried up to her neck in quicksandlike mud. Within minutes, the girl’s plight is broadcast throughout the world.


(The entire section is 570 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

The story opens abruptly, with a startling line: ‘‘They discovered the girl’s head protruding from the mudpit, eyes wide open, calling...

(The entire section is 928 words.)