Clara was the second child of the Zelverhaus family, a family of wealthy tea merchants who lived in the country. When she was twelve, Droessen took an interest in her and gifted her with many clockwork objects and dolls. Included among his gifts was a nutcracker, to which she told all of her secrets.
Clara would crack a walnut between the nutcracker's teeth and ask him, "Are you my soldier? Are you my prince? Are you my darling? Are you mine?" and the nutcracker would come alive and answer her. Then, they would fly out the window into various fantastical lands, which changed in appearance and content as Clara grew older. Clara fell in love with the nutcracker and grew upset that he did not let her stay in his fantastical world.
On her sixteenth birthday, she first had a proper party with her family and eligible merchant's sons. That night, she went outside in the snow to play with the nutcracker, then came in and fell asleep by the hearth.
On the last night of Nachtspel when she was seventeen, Clara prepared to journey to the fantastical lands, but the nutcracker wanted to go outside instead. Initially confused, Clara thought he would let her stay forever in the fantastical world and never have to return home. She kissed the nutcracker, but he did not kiss her back, and repeated his request to go outside.
Clara's older brother, Frederik, offered to take the nutcracker outside, and Clara angrily refused. Despite Clara's protests, Frederik took the nutcracker to the dinner party downstairs. Clara wanted to dance with the nutcracker in the fantastical lands, but could not tell Frederik about her fantasy. After the party, the nutcracker kissed Clara beneath the stairs.
When the nutcracker disappeared into the snow outside, Clara tried to follow him. Her father found her miles from the house, shoeless, half-dressed, freezing, and crying for the loss of her nutcracker. For the next month, Clara remained in bed. When she emerged, her reputation was in ruins—rumors that she had been in a scandal with Droessen that night abounded. However, Clara did not care, and moved to Ketterdam and became a writer.
One day, she learned Droessen's shop had been burgled by a soldier in uniform followed by many fantastical people, and Clara was inspired to write a story.
Personality and traits
Clara has a dreamy disposition and a strong imagination. She liked to play for hours with dolls and, even as she grew older, preferred her own imagination to the culture of an adult woman. Clara felt awkward about her close friendship with the nutcracker, a doll, but she enjoyed the adventures she had with him more than she was embarrassed. She disliked the drab, gray world of reality and preferred stories with fantasy and color. After the nutcracker's departure, Clara channeled her imagination into authorship. She also loves sweets.