Nuria’s apartment is cramped and “adrift in shadows.” Nuria says that her husband is in prison for politically subversive activities, but that Daniel shouldn’t repeat this to Isaac. Meanwhile she supports herself with difficulty by doing translation work.
It’s immediately clear that Nuria and Isaac have a tense relationship, and that Nuria’s romantic relationships, real or hypothetical, aggravate these tensions.
Nuria tells Daniel that she met Carax when she was working for Cabestany’s publishing house in Paris. She says that although Isaac has probably said she chased Carax “like a bitch in heat,” they were just friends, even when she stayed at his apartment during a business trip to Paris. She didn’t think he was happy in France, but he wouldn’t reveal much about his personal life. Nuria confirms the basic details about the Fortuny family related by Mr. Molins, including that Fortuny wasn’t Julian’s real father. Nuria says Carax didn’t hate his father, but lost all respect for him. Daniel notes that the family’s situation seems similar to that of his friend Tomás’s family.
Nuria’s crude description of Isaac’s thoughts highlights her father’s disturbing sense of entitlement to information and control over his daughter’s sexual and romantic life. Daniel’s statement of the similarity between Carax’s family and Tomás’s demonstrates that many families repeat the same troubled parent-child dynamic; although he doesn’t remark on Nuria explicitly, her evident tensions with Isaac show that she’s included in this pattern as well.
Daniel asks about Penélope, but Nuria denies having ever heard of her, even when Daniel shows her the pictures. She says she never heard of him having any girlfriends, and that he once told her “he had no right to love anyone.” She had heard that Carax was supposed to marry a wealthy woman before his involvement in a duel, but doesn’t know any more particulars.
By recapitulating old details without giving any new information, Nuria creates a sense of frustrating repetition. Her seeming lack of knowledge about Penélope corresponds to the caretaker’s account; the evident secrecy that surrounds her suggests that Penélope is a very important character.
Nuria doesn’t know why Carax returned to Barcelona. She only knows that his body turned up at the morgue in 1936, shot through the heart. Fortuny refused to take charge of the affair, so he was buried in a common grave. She wasn’t able to find out anything more, especially since this all occurred during the chaotic beginning of the Civil War, when many people disappeared for a variety of reasons. At one point, Inspector Fumero visited her and warned her not to ask any more questions.
Nuria doesn’t seem to consider Fumero central to her own narrative, but this information is important to Daniel. Fumero’s presence in Carax’s life as well as Daniel’s seems to suggest that the two men are connected by something stronger than just Daniel’s admiration or curiosity.
When asked about Laín Coubert, Nuria theorizes that this is the alias of Jorge Aldaya, whom she believes once called her anonymously to ask for Carax’s Paris address, but which she didn’t give. She never saw Laín Coubert, but she heard his voice and thinks it’s the same as Jorge’s. She theorizes that Jorge wants to burn the books out of spite, since they’re a part of Carax.
Nuria’s theory seems convincing, and it roots Coubert firmly in reality, a real person imitating a character rather than a character come to life. However, it’s important that the only person backing up this hypothesis is Nuria herself.
Nuria tells Daniel he reminds her of Carax, and strokes his hand while he covertly examines her body and fantasizes about kissing her. But she only kisses his cheek and gently ushers him out of the house. As he walks home, Daniel imagines her sitting lonely in her apartment, crying over her memories.
Nuria seems like an active and stoic woman, not at all given to sitting around crying. Daniel’s strange reverie indicates a desire to see women as more sentimental or traditionally feminine than they really are.