For his sixteenth birthday, Daniel decides to throw a dinner party, inviting only Barceló, Clara, and Bernarda. Mr. Sempere thinks it’s a bad idea and that they won’t come, but Daniel doesn’t listen to him. By this point, Daniel no longer reads to Clara and she avoids their intimate visits by making sure her friends are around when he comes over. Her music teacher, Neri, hangs around more and more and doesn’t hide his dislike for Daniel.
Daniel’s dinner party seems contrived to establish the Barcelós as his family, broadening his world and disassociating himself from his humble and depressed father. Notably, while Mr. Sempere disapproves of this, he never explicitly restricts Daniel’s actions.
On the night of the party, Mr. Sempere cooks an enormous dinner, but Barceló has to leave town for a business trip and Clara says that she has a music lesson. Only Bernarda comes. Enraged, Daniel runs out of the apartment and starts wandering the streets down to the port. Lost in memories of the days when he rode pleasure boats with both his parents, he only notices after some time that a limping stranger in a dark suit is following him. Suddenly, the man greets him by name and offers him a cigarette.
Of course, Daniel has to confront the fact that the Barcelós don’t consider him family or feel even a fraction of the loyalty that his father does. Daniel’s first moments of conscious nostalgia show him maturing into adolescence, finally old enough to look back on and long for his youth.
The stranger says he knows a lot about Daniel and abruptly offers to buy The Shadow of the Wind, but Daniel refuses to sell it. Daniel realizes the stranger smells like burned paper. The stranger ominously mentions Daniel’s friendship with Clara, and Daniel realizes that this is the man who approached her in the street. He worries that the man might hurt Clara in order to get the book. To throw the stranger off, Daniel says that Neri has the book and that he’ll ask him about it.
Daniel’s refusal to sell the book echoes his earlier refusal of Barceló’s offer; but now he’s facing a much more dangerous buyer. While his dinner party fiasco seemed immature and ill-conceived, Daniel can also be quite clever and astute at evaluating the stranger’s motives and perceiving the risk to Clara’s safety.
Daniel asks the stranger if he’s a collector. The stranger responds that Carax is his “specialty” and that he collects the books to burn them. When he strikes a match to make his point, Daniel sees that his face is completely scarred over by leathery burns, and he has no nose or lips. The stranger walks away laughing.
By actively seeking to destroy books, the stranger establishes himself as diametrically opposed to The Cemetery of Forgotten books and those like Daniel and Mr. Sempere who value it. He’s a threat not only to Daniel but to the complex truths that literature helps preserve.