"And of Clay, We Are Created" by Isabel Allende Essay

Paper Type:  Argumentative essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1169 Words
Date:  2022-05-09

Isabel Allende's "And of Clay We Are Created," is set up in real event of a 1985 earthquake in Colombia where Omayra Sanchez was a young victim. The story explores what social psychologists call the bystander effect. Azucena, a little girl is trapped in the mad and needs help to survive. Countless reporters are recording her as she is suffering instead of saving her life. The bystander effect is a psychological phenomenon whereby the people around you are likely to lend assistance (Allende, 34). Allende uses voyeurism throughout her story as a critical dramatic device connecting Eva Luna to Azucena and Rolf. Voyeurism leads to the social apathy and acts as a desensitizer in such a crisis event. The media including the television fails to represent the humanitarian assistance needed rather they portray their greed for more money when more viewers see what they had recorded.

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Azucena is dying in a preventable death while the host of camera operators and reporters are desensitized and are apathetic towards her. The television and other media personnel's presents were able to demonstrate the bystander's effects which turn out to be a reality in our society. The more people there are, the less likely the individuals will pass responsibility and help the victim due to the belief that someone else is helping is going to soon. The television personnel's who arrived at the scene individually feel obliged to help the girl who is stuck in the mud. Instead, they represent the rescue efforts as ineffective and cumbersome (Shirky, 39).

Such characters as Rolf Carle the main character and Eva Luna represent the theme of the self-discovery through love through the crafted plot and images. Rolf arrives in a helicopter and media personnel; he does his job which is broadcasting. The television and the media personnel's are represented as lacking the humanitarianism because of their failure to help the dying Azucena whose head is protruding from the mud pit, calling soundless while eyes wide open (Allende, 32). Within minutes the girl's plight is broadcasted worldwide, and everyone is talking about it, except help.

Reporting from the avalanche, the screen footage captures wounded survivors, a clamor of lost children, devastation and corpses makes one the familiar figure with reporting live scenes of catastrophes with awesome tenacity. The media personnel's want to be seen as the non-stoppable, amaze their viewers with equanimity in the face of danger and suffering despite the fact they do not want to help but rather capture it with their cameras. Azucena, therefore, becomes a victim of the psychological phenomenon known as the bystander effect whereby the more people there are, the more likely there is a possibility that the responsibility of helping the victim will be passed on. Before the soldiers and other volunteers can arrive in the story, the reader already knows that such efforts to rescue the girl will be ineffective and cumbersome because the flowing mad has covered her almost complete body.

From the writers' choice of the title, it reminds me of the biblical creation theory. The theory implies that human beings were built from clay. Another part of the bible talks about going back to the mad. When Azucena is killed by the clay, it implies that something that may create something, it may destroy it too someday. The earth in this story reminds us of our mortality which is inevitable to everyone, and emotional conclusion makes the viewers more and more interested in such a story. Humanism is part of humans, and at some times the humanism may destroy the humans too (Pickard, 23). Media personnel's are more concerned about reporting the story to other humans and get more viewers that they forget the fate of the little girl in the mad. The media may take more time caring about how to cover stories that are not necessary whereas they could do something sustainable to contain a situation. In the unfolding stories in all the media houses, Azucena becomes the symbol of tragedy as a perfect subject by the same media. The sympathy from the viewers increases the number of viewers as they see the hopelessness of such a loss which is very sad and depressing at the same time.

Isabel Allende's work is a depiction of the media portrayal of the human tragedy. The media is often the "window" of human suffering because it is human nature to identify tragic situations. The protagonist, Rolf Carle is the only newscaster in this scene with a detached attitude because after he arrives, he tries to help. The other cameramen focus the cameras towards a little girl buried neck deep in the clay. Once Rolf offers to help, the crewmen bring in new sophisticated coverage's sets which are clearer and sharper to focus the symbol of the tragedy and the man beside her, Rolf. She does not receive better lifesaving equipment, rather the crewmen want better pictures for those that are watching at home.

After the visit from the republic's presidents at the catastrophic scene, the media personnel's present wants to monitor whatever the president says closely. They dangle microphones in his face although his visit is ceremonial and he intended to bolster the rescuer's spirits, warn marauders and visit the little girl who had just been buried in the same day. The television and other media, therefore, is depicted as a character who wants to play in the human characteristic of needing to identify with tragic events while those that are reporting remains aloof (Pickard, 35). Rolf changes this as he is moved to reach deep into his past where he identifies with the victim's plight. Allende, therefore, wants to choose the place of humanistic acts in the social reporting.


It should be noted that the girl's story could not be read, told or even seen in the television was it not for the media personnel's who were more interested in the story of her tragedy rather than her life. Her death was preventable, and she sacrificed so that the media could make more money (Shirky, 33). Her photo taken by the journalists in her final moments were published in almost every journal worldwide. The media is, therefore, a platform that capitalizes on the power of death. The more frequent the events, the more money the media house will make as a result of the many viewers. The power of death is so capitalized that it is used to justify our morals or for the betterment of our own and others. Television and other media houses exploited death and sensationalized, twisted to fit agenda and message better. The photos and the images taken by the media during her demise seems transparent and right, and making is impossible for rational and compassionate humans to disregard them.

Works Cited

Pickard, Victor. "Media failures in the age of Trump." The Political Economy of Communication 4.2 (2017).

Shirky, Clay. "The political power of social media: Technology, the public sphere, and political change." Foreign affairs (2011): 28-41.

Allende, Isabel. "And of Clay Are We Created." Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary (1989).

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"And of Clay, We Are Created" by Isabel Allende Essay. (2022, May 09). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/and-of-clay-we-are-created-by-isabel-allende-essay

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