This short story describes a man, Rolf Carle, who desperately tries to help a girl Azucena who is stuck in clay after a volcano eruption. The themes I predict is this story are repressed memories, feminism, and corruption of society. Rolf tries to help this Azucena for 3 days straight while his significant other stays home and watches him on the television. She watches him from the sidelines. Rolf even says that he comes to love this girl more than his life partner, the narrator: “Rolf assured her that he loved her [Azucena] more than he could ever love anyone, more than he loved his mother, more than his sister, more than all the women who had slept in his arms, more than he loved me” (Allende 366). Although Rolf does not seem to be close to the narrator even though she loves him more than anything, Azucena helps his deal with his repressed pain.
Rolf lives through the lens of his camera, but when he meets Azucena, he associates closely with her because he feels trapped in his life and memories like she is trapped in the clay. He remembers the time his father beats him and his sister. Allende also writes of an abusive husband in the other short story. This could mean something about Allende’s life. Also, Rolf’s sister was retarded which brought out even more hatred from his father. When Rolf is with her he remembers all his painful memories and he hurts more than Azucena does. Although Rolf looks courageous on the outside he suffers immensely which I believe shows that he is actually not superior to his wife who waits for him.
In addition, this story shows the corruption of government. Rolf believe all he needs is a pump to help save Azucena’s life, but he cannot get a pump. At first it may seem because the whole town is devastated from the tornado. Yet, the town and government is not focused on saving Azucena, they are focused on creating a story out of her. She is constantly on television and camera crews come with new technology to record her: “More television and movie teams arrived with spools of cable, tapes, film, videos, precision lenses, recorders, sound consoles, lights, reflecting screen, auxiliary motors, cartons of supplies, electricians, sound technicians, and cameraman” (Allende 361). All this new technology comes to witness Azucena, yet the pump does not come. The town clearly has enough money for the pump though if they are investing in all these camera supplies. Also, the president comes to praise Azucena, but he does not deliever a pump either. This shows that the town and government are focused on the giving a media a good story rather than saving a life. This of course is extremely hyperbolic, but that is how Allende gets her point across.