Daniel returns to the bookstore to find Mr. Sempere annoyed at his long absence. Mr. Sempere leaves to meet a client, leaving a letter for Daniel from the military office, calling him up to service in two months.
Just as Carax was threatened with military service at the climax of his affair with Penélope, the army becomes a frighteningly real prospect for Daniel as his investigations start to bear fruit.
Barceló arrives and announces he’s been to visit Don Fonseca, an employee at the city morgue who was on duty when the police brought Carax’s body in, claiming it had been found on the street, identified by a passport and a book. Don Fonseca says he called the publisher listed in the book, while Nuria claims the morgue only called three days later. Don Fonseca says it sounded as if the secretary he talked with already knew about the death.
In focusing on Fortuny’s disavowal of his son, Barceló picked a seemingly tiny detail to investigate, but he turns out to be very shrewd. His ability to make conclusions based on his confidence in father-son relationships suggests there really is something enduring about the filial bond, regardless of its troubled manifestations throughout the novel.
Moreover, Don Fonseca says that a visibly distraught Fortuny arrived to identify the body later that day. He looked at the body, stopped crying, and immediately left without affirmatively identifying the body. Then Inspector Fumero appeared at the morgue, signed off on the identification instead, ordered the corpse to be buried immediately, and threatened Don Fonseca when he objected.
It’s important – and touching – that Fortuny really was devastated to see his son dead, both because it suggests that he’s not as hardhearted a father as he always seemed, and because it suggests that his later assertion to his neighbors that he “has no son” has an ulterior motive.