The next morning, Daniel and Fermín meet at a café to plan their day’s investigations. Fermín theorizes that Carax and Jorge were best friends, like Daniel and Tomás, until a problem arose—in the form of Penélope. Penélope’s letter suggests that when Carax left for Paris she was a prisoner in her own house, and Carax and Jorge were enemies. However, since he never got the letter, Carax must never have found out what happened to his lover. His life remains a mystery from that point until his supposed engagement to the wealthy woman and the subsequent duel.
Fermín puts into explicit words the growing parallels between Carax’s relationship with Penélope and Daniel’s with Bea. This parallel adds urgency to Daniel’s investigation; he needs to find out exactly what went wrong in Carax’s story, so he can prevent it from happening to himself as well.
Fermín points out that all they know after this is that Carax probably died in Barcelona in 1936, and that shortly afterwards a mysterious figure with some resemblance to Jorge named Laín Coubert appeared, bent on destroying all of Carax’s work. Daniel feels nauseous, and throws up his entire breakfast in the bathroom.
While Daniel was previously happy to discover parallels between himself and an admired author, the possible consequences of any connection to Carax’s tragic fate now occur to him. He’s realizing that it’s usually not a good thing when history repeats itself.
Fermín and Daniel take a cab out of the city to the school, which is housed in a large Gothic building with a garden decorated with statues of angels. Although it’s decrepit today, San Gabriel’s used to be Barcelona’s most elite boys’ school before the Civil War. Only the sons of old and prestigious families were admitted, which would have made Carax an anomalous scholarship student.
Like the Aldaya house and family, San Gabriel’s used to be very prosperous but lost its status with the Civil War. This again marks the Civil War as a point of serious upheaval and transition, but not necessarily of lasting change. The fact that the Aguilar family mirrors the Aldayas shows that the same narratives take place in modern times, just to different people.
The first person Fermín and Daniel meet is Father Fernando Ramos, who just happens to have been the classmate and friend of Carax and Jorge. Fermín asks for any information he might have about their school days. Father Fernando remarks that Daniel looks like Carax, which inspires Fermín to lie that Daniel is Carax’s illegitimate son searching for information about his father. Although he doesn’t quite believe them, Father Fernando invites them inside.
Daniel and Fermín’s discovery of Father Fernando is pure luck and has nothing to do with their detective skills, just like Isaac’s offhand advice to contact Nuria. So many coincidences guide Daniel towards information about Carax that it seems like he’s destined to learn more about the author.