And of Clay Are We Created

by Isabel Allende

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Discussion Topic

Rolf's actions and past in "And of Clay Are We Created."

Summary:

Rolf's actions in "And of Clay Are We Created" involve his attempts to rescue a young girl trapped in a mudslide. His past, marked by trauma and loss, surfaces as he connects with the girl, revealing his own vulnerabilities and the emotional scars he carries.

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How does the narrator learn about Rolf's actions in "And of Clay Are We Created"?

The narrator is able to keep track of what Rolf Carle is up to through the television footage of the disaster, which as time goes by focuses more and more on the pitiful figure of Azucena, and Rolf Carle by her side, as he tries to comfort her and does everything he can to try and save her. Note how this is reflected in the following quote, that conveys the somewhat uncanny sensation that the narrator has of being with her lover and Azucena even though they are so far away:

The improved technical facilities bore results, and National Television began receiving sharper pictures and clearer sound; the distance seemed suddenly compressed, and I had the horrible sensation that Azucena and Rolf were by my side, separated from me by impenetrable glass.

The narrator refers to the proximity she feels to Rolf as a "horrible sensation," no doubt because the clarity of the images and the constant footage makes her think that she is uncomfortably close to this disaster zone, and involved in it, even though she has not left her home at all. This does, however, allow her to in effect share Rolf's experiences, and understand something of what he goes through.

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What is revealed about Rolf's past in "And of Clay Are We Created"?

In the short story “And of Clay We Are Created” by Isabel Allende the reader experiences foreshadowing of Rolf Carlé’s past at the end of the first paragraph.

And every time we saw her on the screen, right behind her was Rolf Carlé,who had gone there on assignment, never suspecting that he would find a fragment of his past, lost thirty years before

Rolf grew up in Europe where he was exposed to the atrocities of war. He saw evidence of his mother being abused and was forced to bury the dead in concentration camps. Ultimately, his mother sent him away, abandoning his sister.

The parallel to Azencia’s plight occurred when he was a young child. His father was an abusive man who used his belt as punishment on the young Rolf, and who locked him in a dark armoire for hours for deeds he did not commit. Those hours spent in the darkness with his eyes closed and his ears covered, so that he could escape the sound of his heartbeat, were torture. In addition, he had a sister, Katharina, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. She was a disappointment to her father but Rolf sheltered and protected her to escape their father’s outrage. Only when Azucena, who was buried in clay, released her fear of death was he able come to terms with his darkest days. Her plight allowed him to release the pain of his youth.

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