OF THE BABY NAME CLAUDIA
Claudia is the five year old girl featured in Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, making her first appearance in the first book of the series, Interview with the Vampire, published in 1976 (and played by a young Kirsten Dunst in the 1994 movie of the same name). She is an orphan in plague-ridden New Orleans of the 18th century, whom the vampire Lestat transforms into one of them, and he and the vampire Louis make her their “daughter”. Claudia is described as a beautiful child, with golden ringlets and a face like an angel. Under the vampires’ tutelage, she becomes an accomplished vampire herself. Embarking on a centuries’ long voyage of aimlessness and angst with Louis and Lestat, Claudia comes to hate Lestat for turning her into an eternal child, while her mind ages and matures seductively. She becomes more and more educated and independent as time goes by and eventually, she and Louis plot to kill Lestat and to travel to Europe in search of others like themselves. Lestat, however, survives, follows them to Europe, and manages to engineer Claudia’s death. Louis escapes, but never recovers from Claudia’s death, and mourns her forever more. In sequels, Claudia’s own spirit continues to suffer and to cause suffering in others until she at last attains a peace of her own. It is Louis who utters the final truth of the tragedy of Claudia when he says she “…should never have been one of us.” Claudia’s story is even more poignant when one knows that the character was created out of the grief Ms. Rice felt over the death of her own young daughter from leukemia.
Claudia McTeer is the narrator of Toni Morrison’s 1970 novel, The Bluest Eye, which takes place in the American Midwest after the Great Depression. Claudia is a child at the start of the novel, whose mother takes in a young girl named Pecola. Pecola is the damaged result of neglectful parenting, incest and self-loathing, who only wishes to have blue eyes. Young Claudia in all her innocence is like the other side of the coin from Pecola. She, too, suffers from racial insecurity, but the stability of her family background has been such that she is able to weather the slings of a racist society with dignity, anger, compassion and, ultimately, forgiveness. Pecola is not so lucky, and her final fate is insanity. As a young woman looking back, Claudia is able to understand better all the factors that went into the downward spiraling of Pecola, and she is able to remind herself that there is hope, there is reason, but there is also a formidable race/ class divide to conquer. The Claudia McTeers provide us with the best possible hope for that sunnier future.
Claudia Quinta is a legendary Roman figure dating back to the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage during the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. During the Second Punic War against the great military commander Hannibal, the Romans began to develop a cult around Cybele, the Great Mother goddess to ensure their success against Carthage. Her effigy was ordered to be delivered to Rome by ship and all married women of Rome were ordered to the Ostia Harbor to receive the statue. Enter Claudia Quinta. Now this was a woman of poor reputation in ancient Rome. She was vilified for wearing too much make-up and adorning herself with fancy dress. In those days this was considered exceptionally bold and disgraceful for a woman of her time. We rather think of her as sassy and fun, though! In any case, Claudia arrived at port right as the ship got stuck on a sandbar. Ropes were secured to the vessel and all the men tried as they could to pull that ship off the sandbar to no avail. Claudia prayed mightily to Cybele and then tied the ropes to her own sash pulling the ship successfully to port. She became an instant heroine and apparently immediately absolved of all her flashy “sins”. It’s too bad Claudia had to do a man’s job before being recognized for embracing her own inner-goddess!