Barceló listens attentively to most of Daniel’s story. Then they check on Fermín, who is recuperating next to a sleeping Bernarda. Fermín puts on a brave face for Daniel’s benefit, and Daniel continues to fill Barceló in. The bookseller is struck by the fact that Fumero is involved in the story at so many points, as well as the fact that Carax apparently spent a month in Barcelona before his death and no one knew anything about it. The most puzzling point, to him, is Fortuny’s refusal to claim Carax’s body, which he says is too inhuman for any father.
Barceló examines Daniel’s story as if it were a literary text – which, in nature if not in form, it is. Like Daniel, Barceló believes that analyzing the various narratives about Carax for hidden truths and patterns will yield the secret of the mystery. It’s also interesting that although the novel is rife with troubled father-son relationships, Barceló considers this bond sacred and enduring, enough to treat Fortuny’s behavior as a potential clue.
Barceló says they will need his help and connections to solve the mystery before Fumero catches up to them again and kills Fermín. He orders Daniel to visit Nuria and explain he knows she’s been lying, in order to force her into action.
Barceló immediately and confidently asserts his right to take control of the situation. Although he’s a sympathetic character, he clearly defines himself in terms of his power and connections.
Finally returning home at dawn, Daniel finds the careworn Mr. Sempere asleep with an open book at the dining table. Daniel is surprised by how frail and vulnerable he looks, especially since he used to consider his father “invincible.” Daniel kisses him carefully, as if by doing so he could “deceive time and convince it to pass us by.”