After a good night’s sleep, Daniel convinces himself that he imagined the sinister stranger. That afternoon, he puts on his Sunday clothes and walks to the Barceló house, where he’s greeted by the kind maid, Bernarda. The apartment seems palatial compared to Daniel’s humble home; it’s packed with the rare books, statues, and paintings that Barceló collects. Daniel finds Clara in a parlor overlooking the street, playing piano badly and serenely. Clara remarks that Barceló has hired a well-known music teacher, Adrián Neri, to fix her playing. Daniel is irritated by Clara’s obvious admiration for this man.
Barceló provides Daniel with his first glimpse of a wealthier and more powerful life than his own, continuing to act as a contrast to Mr. Sempere. Notably, Daniel’s anger at Neri as an interloper implies that he’s somehow entitled to Clara’s love or established in her affections, when in fact he’s a child with a crush that she can never really reciprocate.
After a snack, Daniel begins to read out loud, gradually relaxing and becoming subsumed in the narrative. Clara says the novel reminds her of Carax’s other works, and Daniel volunteers to return the next day and read again. Soon, he’s in the habit of visiting every day, except when Clara has music lessons with Neri. Daniel becomes accustomed to every object in the apartment and goes for walks with Clara, describing for her all the things she can’t see.
Daniel and Clara bond over their shared participation in literature; Daniel’s worship of Clara is linked to the books they devour together. But while Daniel’s insistence on owning The Shadow of the Wind is a sign of integrity, his desire to possess Clara is more inappropriate and troubling.
Clara confides that once when she was alone in the street, a stranger approached her and started asking questions about Barceló and Daniel. When she touched his face, it felt like a leather mask. Daniel doesn’t quite believe her.
Clara’s report coincides with Daniel’s sighting of the stranger outside his window, implying it’s not just a coincidence.
Daniel feels tortured by his passion for Clara, since he has no hope that she’ll ever reciprocate it. Still, he remarks that people always love “those who hurt us the most.” He dreads the start of the school year, when he won’t be able to spend all his time with Clara.
Daniel says that Clara “hurts” him, implying that her lack of reciprocation is a choice rather than a simple fact of their age difference or her feelings. In doing so, he subtly faults Clara for his tragic passion, although she’s really not responsible for it.
Meanwhile, Daniel befriends Bernarda, who pities his motherless state. She’s from an abusive family in a provincial town, but Barceló has taken her in and taught her to behave like a refined city maid. She goes to church every day and confesses “three times a week, four in warm weather,” having frequent arguments with the agnostic Barceló. Bernarda ensures that Daniel gets haircuts, has clean clothes, and uses toothpaste. She also tells Daniel that he’s too obsessed with Clara, referencing radio stories about boys who fall in love with teachers and are cursed, but he doesn’t listen to her.
Bernarda is defined by her religiosity and her reliance on news and stories delivered by the radio. Zafón mocks both of these things, and in doing so implicitly mocks the Spanish government, since it relied on religion to advance its agenda and often disseminated propaganda through radio news or soap operas.
Mr. Sempere also disapproves of Daniel’s devotion to Clara, and says he ought to spend more time with friends his own age. Daniel informs his father that he “doesn’t know anything about women.” Daniel fights with his father after he loans The Shadow of the Wind indefinitely to Clara. He also gripes about his large share of work in the bookshop, and he misses the “intimacy” and “small world” they shared in the years after his mother’s death. He concludes that his father is “hurt” that he spends so much time in the Barcelós’ luxurious orbit, and that he treats Bernarda like a mother figure, while Mr. Sempere never even thinks of remarrying.
As he grows up and forms other relationships outside his childhood home, Daniel’s close relationship with his father is tested. In particular, Daniel is enticed by the wealthy and secure atmosphere of the Barceló house, while his father’s home is humble and often sad, haunted by his mother’s death. Most of the novel’s parent-child relationships are characterized by conflict, but Daniel’s acute understanding of the conflict shows his true respect for his father and hints that they will overcome these issues.
Daniel becomes increasingly pained by his love for Clara, but refuses to address it. Whenever she tells him they need to talk, he makes excuses to leave the room.
By this point, even Clara has clearly attempted to defuse Daniel’s ill-conceived passion. However, Daniel’s refusal to address it makes clear that she’s no longer responsible for resolving his feelings.