Everyone is horrified at this turn of events—even the conventionally uptight Merceditas, who says the police are evil. Fermín counters that they are morons, which is even worse because morons are more sanctimonious and have less ability to reason. He begins to fight with Merceditas about the hypocrisy of religion until Mr. Sempere orders Fermín to go to the pharmacy and buy things for Don Federico.
Even though Merceditas is very conservative and probably frowns on homosexuality in the abstract, her instinctive distrust of the government makes her sympathetic to Don Federico. Her reaction shows that for ordinary people, fear or dislike of authority can supersede traditional dogma.
Feeling that Fumero tortured Don Federico in order to demonstrate his power over Fermín, Daniel tells Mr. Sempere about the inspector’s visit, but his father just tells him to keep quiet and not frighten Fermín. Mr. Sempere tries to inquire about Daniel’s meeting with Bea, but he won’t reveal anything. Eventually, he tactfully gives Daniel the afternoon off.
When presented with a potential threat, Mr. Sempere is resolutely passive, unlike most of the novel’s men who rush to action without thinking at all. His response to Fumero corresponds to his attitude toward Bea and his refusal to press the reluctant Daniel for details.
Before his date with Bea, Daniel goes to visit Nuria Monfort, finding her apartment building in a shabby neighborhood and her name listed on the mailbox along with that of Miquel Moliner. After knocking on her door without success, he finds Nuria reading in the courtyard. She’s a graceful woman with a careworn face. Daniel says he was sent by her father to find out about Carax, but she is immediately suspicious and only reluctantly invites him inside.
Although Nuria will prove the novel’s most independent woman, she first appears only in relation to several other men – her father, Carax, the unknown man listed on her mailbox. This demonstrates the extent to which the novels’ female characters generally function as appendages to men.