Mr. Aldaya doesn’t arrive at the hat shop and meet Carax by chance, but rather because he has started to think more about the son he never knew. Moreover, he has decided that his legitimate heir, Jorge, is weak and stupid, and has lost interest in him. When he meets Carax, Mr. Aldaya feels youthful again, and thinks he can mold the boy in his own image. He never realizes that Carax only tolerates him in order to be close to Penélope.
When Mr. Aldaya discovers his two children’s affair, he feels both humiliated that they’ve tricked him and horrified that they’ve committed incest. He feels such hatred for Carax that he conspires to have him killed once he’s in the army and locks Penélope away for the duration of her pregnancy, not even allowing to the servants to help her.
While even a kindhearted parent would have to separate lovers who violated the incest taboo, it’s clear that Mr. Aldaya’s motives lie elsewhere. Both of his children have subverted his control over their lives, and he doesn’t just desire to separate them but punish them severely.
Finally, Penélope gives birth to a stillborn boy. Because Mr. Aldaya doesn’t allow a doctor to help her, she dies alone of a hemorrhage, murdered by her own father. The family buries her and the baby in the secret crypt. Jorge eventually tells Miquel of her fate, “drunk with guilt and shame” at not having protected his sister.
Mr. Aldaya’s actions amount to murder, making his and Penélope’s by far the most troubled parent-child relationship in the book. While many men – her father, her brother, and her lover – fight for control over Penélope, none of them can possess her as much as they want to.
Soon after this, the Aldaya fortune crumbles, Mrs. Aldaya dies, and the men of the family emigrate to Argentina to escape their creditors. During the voyage, Mr. Aldaya forces Jorge to promise he will one day kill Carax, then throws himself overboard and is eaten by sharks.
The family’s material circumstances mirror their moral decline. It’s notable that while Jorge seems to recognize his father’s culpability in Penélope’s death, he draws closer to him as a result. By placing blame for the crime outside the family, he seeks to absolve his own complicity as well.