The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind

by

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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The Shadow of the Wind: An Empty Plate: Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In his office, Isaac says that he first heard of Carax from his friend Toni Cabestany, a Spanish publisher who bought the rights to Carax’s books when they weren’t selling well in Paris. Even though Carax’s books failed on the Spanish market as well and didn’t make money, Cabestany continued to publish them. Eventually, Cabestany died and his sons inherited the company. One day, a man named Laín Coubert arrived and offered to buy all the copies of Carax’s work at a generous price. Daniel notes that this is the name Carax gives to the devil in The Shadow of the Wind. The greedy son asked for more money, but instead the man burned down the entire warehouse the next night. However, just before the warehouse burned, the company secretary saved a copy of each of Carax’s books. The secretary is Nuria, Isaac’s daughter, and Isaac says she has “a fondness for lost causes” and was friends with Carax.
It seems clear that the mysterious man who burned down Cabestany’s warehouse is the same person as the stranger who frightened Daniel earlier that night. Since the man shares his name with a character in Carax’s novel, Daniel knows it’s not a coincidence that their encounter resembled a scene in the novel. It’s unclear whether Laín Coubert is actually the character from Carax’s novel or the alias of a man inspired by the book. This confusion highlights the extent to which literature can influence and become entwined with the events of real life.
Themes
Reality and the Written Word Theme Icon
Daniel asks about Carax’s family, and Isaac says that the parents were separated for unknown reasons. His mother moved to South America and Carax was estranged from his father, Fortuny, who owns a hat shop, by the time he moved to Paris.
Like Daniel’s mother, Carax’s is a mysterious and faraway presence who doesn’t play a very active role in her son’s life. On the other hand, Carax’s estrangement from his father contrasts to Daniel’s close (although sometimes strained) relationship to Mr. Sempere.
Themes
Fathers, Sons, and Masculinity Theme Icon
Daniel suggests that if he wasn’t close to his family Carax might have visited Nuria when he returned to Barcelona, but Isaac says he wouldn’t know. Because Nuria won’t say much about her friendship with Carax, he suspects that that they were sleeping together; he thinks Carax is a “scoundrel” for this reason.
Isaac’s antipathy towards Carax is based on his assumption that Carax slept with his daughter, rather than anything Nuria said on the subject. Evidently, he considers it normal and just to dislike a man who is sexually involved with his daughter, regardless of Nuria’s feelings on the matter.
Themes
Possessive and Obsessive Love Theme Icon
The books that Nuria took from the factory are now hidden at the Cemetery, because a few days after she stole them she noticed a strange man following her and deduced that it was Coubert. She hid the books without telling anyone where they were, intending to retrieve them once she located Carax. However, she has never come back for them.
Daniel is doing exactly what Nuria did several years ago – hiding Carax’s books at the Cemetery to preserve them from the stranger called Coubert. This act of repetition connects Daniel to Nuria, even though he doesn’t actually know her yet.
Themes
Duality and Repetition Theme Icon
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Daniel asks if he can talk to Nuria, and Isaac admits that his own relationship with his daughter is rocky. He believes she’s married to someone named Miquel, but she never told him personally or invited him to the wedding. Daniel wonders aloud if Nuria still thinks about Carax, and Isaac says that while he doesn’t know, he himself often thinks of his first love, who died of tuberculosis before they could marry. He believes Carax hurt his daughter, and will never forgive him for that.
It’s evident that Isaac has a troubled relationship with his daughter; it’s also evident that the trouble stems from his hostility towards her relationships with men. Nuria’s behavior suggests that she found his insinuations about Carax meddlesome or inappropriate, and that she’s responded by excluding him from any involvement in her love life.
Themes
Possessive and Obsessive Love Theme Icon
Daniel enters the labyrinth to hide the novel, imagining Nuria doing the same thing years ago. Isaac advises him to make notches in the wood shelves to remind himself where the book is, and Daniel eventually hides it among a dusty collection of philosophical treatises. As he leaves he feels sad for the loss of the book and thinks about the enormity of knowledge contained in the Cemetery, which can never be fully understood.
This is one of many moments in which Daniel notes that he’s repeating someone else’s action; these moments build the sense that Daniel’s narrative has already happened before. Whenever Daniel goes to the Cemetery, he’s struck by the impression that the world of literature is much deeper and more complex than the everyday world, even though it’s produced by writers and readers who themselves are products of that world.
Themes
Duality and Repetition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Masculinity Theme Icon
Reality and the Written Word Theme Icon
Related Quotes
When Daniel returns home, he finds Mr. Sempere still dressed and smoking in his armchair. Daniel refuses to say exactly where he’s been all night, but his father seems resigned and urges him to open his birthday present. He has bought Daniel the fountain pen that he craved so much as a child. Daniel is touched both by the thoughtfulness of the gift and by his father’s evident happiness at seeing him open it.
Unlike Isaac, who has an overweening desire to know exactly what’s going on in his daughter’s life, Mr. Sempere respects Daniel’s privacy even when it causes him worry. His gift of the long-desired fountain pen demonstrates his unconditional love for his son, a rare parental emotion in this novel.
Themes
Fathers, Sons, and Masculinity Theme Icon