The Red House was completely different from anything Clara had read before. She compares the experience of reading it to the excitement of a first kiss. It made her realize she could live “intensely” despite her lack of sight. By this time, Daniel is spellbound by Clara’s charm and barely listening to what she’s saying.
For Clara as well as Daniel, acts of reading are just as intense and moving as milestones in real life. This is especially true for Clara because books allow her to participate in aspects of life usually denied to her because of her blindness.
Clara spent years looking for Carax’s work in shops and libraries, without success. Later, Roquefort heard a rumor about a strange person obtaining copies of Carax’s work by any means necessary and immediately burning them.
Most information about Carax comes in the form of rumors, which different speakers retell and reshape throughout the novel. Rumors are a form of storytelling and thus potentially of literature; although they’re often misleading, each contains a grain of truth that leads Daniel to discover more about Carax.
In the meantime, the Civil War had ended, and Clara returned to Barcelona with her mother. The city was not the place they remembered, haunted by the brutality of the war and the memory of Clara’s dead father. Clara’s mother hired an investigator to look into his death, and the detective discovered that he was killed by a man named Javier Fumero, who worked as a hired thug for the anarchists, communists, and fascists, changing his loyalty to align with whichever party was in power. Now, Fumero is a feared and respected police officer. Clara’s mother faded away in grief and now Clara’s home is with her uncle, whom she adores.
Clara continues to emphasize how much the Civil War altered life in Barcelona for the worse. It’s important that in his first appearance, Javier Fumero is a man who thrives in circumstances that harm other characters. His chameleon-like nature and lack of any principles (demonstrated by his shifting allegiances) contrast unfavorably with Clara’s father’s loyalty and the stolid integrity young Daniel has already displayed.
Daniel volunteers to read out loud to Clara and is surprised when she accepts. Daniel believes she knew he was in love with her and wonders why she befriended him. He concludes it was because of their shared love of literature and to alleviate her loneliness and sense of loss. Barceló returns with the book, and Daniel offers to return the next day and read a few chapters to Clara. Barceló laughs at his impertinence, but Clara accepts the offer.
Although he’s only met her twice, Daniel presents Clara as aware of and somewhat complicit in his “love” for her, which is really more of a schoolboy crush. To Daniel, Clara exists more in his imagination and fantasies than she does in real life.