Carax has finally solved the dreadful mystery of his lost love. Nuria drags him out of the cellar, feeling “the venom of hatred spreading slowly through his veins.” She knows he blames himself for the tragedy, and that he now hates himself and the books to which he has devoted his life. He runs away from the house, leaving Nuria behind. When she returns home, she finds he’s already been there, left her the Victor Hugo fountain pen, and burned all her copies of his novels.
In Nuria’s words, the effect of the discovery on Carax is a sort of chemical reaction, changing his identity fundamentally. It’s also important that Carax takes out his grief on his books; this shows how closely he connects his work to his own identity and to his passion for Penélope. He burns his books to show his self-hatred as well as the finality of his love affair.
When Nuria arrives at work, she finds that someone named Laín Coubert has already been there asking to buy all the company’s Carax stock. That night, Nuria hides copies of all Carax’s works in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and the warehouse is burned down. The night watchman at the warehouse tells her that after the fire, the firefighters found a burned human body and took it to the hospital.
While the identity of Laín Coubert has puzzled Daniel for the entire novel, Nuria figures it out right away. Nuria acts to protect Carax’s work as instinctively as she protects the man himself, showing that she too considers his works integral to his identity – or even as having important identities of their own.
Nuria finds a badly burned Carax at the hospital and identifies him (falsely) as Miquel Moliner. She takes care of him as he recovers for a year. Meanwhile, he says nothing and is assumed to have lost his mind. He also loses most of his face in the blaze. Eventually, Nuria takes him home and tries to take care of him, although he just tells him to leave her.
Carax’s physical damage mirrors the mental damage that Nuria noticed immediately after his discovery of Penélope’s death. He is truly changed, as if into another, more monstrous person.
When Nuria has depleted most of their financial reserves, Carax takes to going out at night, disguised as Laín Coubert and stealing to support them. She realizes that he’s also breaking into libraries and homes in order to burn copies of his own books.
Laín Coubert is a criminal, but he also acts out of understandable motives. Like most characters who are associated with devils, Coubert has both reprehensible and sympathetic traits.
Nuria runs into Fortuny, who believes that Carax is alive somewhere and hiding from Fumero, who is the only person in Barcelona who manages to come out on top no matter what course the war takes. Even though Nuria knows Fortuny was a terrible father, he reminds her of her own father, so she takes to visiting him in his lonely apartment. Eventually Fortuny dies—Nuria believes of loneliness.
Nuria attempts to vicariously fix or atone for her own troubled relationship by being a kind daughter figure to Fortuny. Like many characters, she finds it easier to relate to someone else’s parent than her own.
Nuria and Carax desperately need money, so Nuria uses a strategy that Carax once wrote about in a novel, writing as a fictitious lawyer to Sophie in South America and asking for authorization to assume temporary ownership of the Fortuny apartment. Posing as Requejo, she convinces Sophie to send a monthly money order for property expenses to Nuria’s PO box.
Faced with a serious dilemma, Nuria takes her tactics from Carax’s novels. This shows how strongly literature tends to manifest itself and determine the course of real life events in the book.
Nuria and Carax survive for several years this way, until one day an informer posing as a journalism student arrived to ask questions about Miquel. That night, Nuria takes Carax to hide in his childhood apartment. By this time, he barely speaks or leaves the house, and she’s not even sure if he’s still sane.
It’s important that the informer poses as a journalist. This subtly contributes to the characterization of news and newspapers as an inherently untrustworthy source of information, especially compared to literature.