The next day, Daniel sets off to the Ateneo library to find Barceló. He finds the collector seated next to a woman dressed in white who looks like an angel. Barceló begins to examine the book, telling Daniel that The Shadow of the Wind is Carax’s last novel. Moreover, this is the only copy remaining, since the rest have been burned.
Imagery of angels and demons occur throughout the novel, with important women frequently appearing angelic. However, it’s important to note that this characterization is based largely on appearance, not behavior.
Barceló introduces the woman as his niece, Clara, who is an “expert” on Carax. He scuttles into another room with the book, leaving Daniel to talk to Clara. She says that Daniel has earned Barceló’s respect by refusing to part with the book for money.
Even though he’s still a child, Daniel’s first act of moral courage hints at what kind of man he will become, and how much he will prioritize his esteem for books.
Clara is blind, and Daniel is entranced both by her beauty and the fact that he can observe her without her noticing. Even though she’s twenty-six and he’s eleven, he’s immediately attracted to her. Clara runs her hands over Daniel’s face to “read his features,” and Daniel blushes.
Although Clara will emerge as an intelligent and strong character, her blindness lends her an air of passivity and helplessness. It’s important and a little discomforting that this is what first attracts the much younger Daniel.