The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind

by

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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The Shadow of the Wind: Days of Ashes: Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Daniel is tempted to share the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books with his best friend, Tómas Aguilar. Tómas is a gifted classmate who spends his free time thinking up eccentric inventions. Instead, Daniel asks his father about Carax’s life and bibliography, planning to read his other novels as soon as possible. However, he discovers that his well-read father has never even heard of the Shadow of the Wind. Intrigued, Mr. Sempere examines the book and sees it was printed in Barcelona in 1936, with a first edition printed the year before in Paris. The book’s local origins make it even more puzzling that Mr. Sempere doesn’t know it.
The novel’s closeness to Daniel’s home, Barcelona, strengthens his connection with it. However, its mysterious nature and his expert father’s lack of information destabilize Daniel’s sense of familiarity with the city. As the novel progresses, this will make Daniel question many of his assumptions about his environment.
Themes
Duality and Repetition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Masculinity Theme Icon
Mr. Sempere decides to consult his prosperous and connected colleague Gustavo Barceló. Barceló owns a huge bookstore which he finances with his inherited industrial fortune, and he has an “elephantine” memory for books and their authors. The Semperes find Barceló at his habitual after-work haunt, the cafe Els Quatre Gats, where coincidentally Daniel’s parents met. Mr. Sempere introduces Daniel as his son who is starting to grow into a young man.
It’s important that Mr. Sempere proudly introduces Daniel as a young man here. His growing interest in literature coincides with the first milestones of adolescence. At the same time that he learns about the world of books as it exists outside the Semperes’ shop, he’s inducted into the world of professional men and his father’s friends.
Themes
Duality and Repetition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Masculinity Theme Icon
Coincidence and Determinism Theme Icon
After examining the book, Barceló smiles icily and demands to know where Daniel found it, although Daniel won’t divulge the secret of the Cemetery. Barceló offers Mr. Sempere a large sum to buy the book, but Mr. Sempere says it’s Daniel’s decision. Daniel declines the offer, even when Barceló raises his price. Daniel asks to know more about Carax’s past, and Barceló says that if he visits him the next day and brings the book, Barceló will tell him all he knows. Barceló remains preoccupied the rest of the evening, looking at the book, and Daniel’s afraid he’ll somehow take it from him.
Wealthy, intelligent, and sometimes sly, Barceló expresses his masculinity by exercising power and implying his ability to take the things he wants if he can’t buy them. This makes him a marked contrast to the mild Mr. Sempere, who declines to exercise control over his son even though, as a father, he could easily do so. Although Daniel will have close relationships with both men, they emerge as models of two very different kinds of masculinity.
Themes
Fathers, Sons, and Masculinity Theme Icon