Imagery of angels and devils appears frequently in the novel, and many characters are associated with one or the other creature—though these associations often contradict their actual behavior. With their scales, claws, and leathery faces, Laín Coubert and Jacinta’s apparition Zacarías have the appearance and accessories of demonic creatures. However, while Zacarías predicts unpleasant truths and Coubert is disposed to violent revenge, neither are particularly evil. In fact, Jacinta comes to view Zacarías as a guardian spirit, and Coubert is revealed to be part of Julián Carax’s very human persona. Fumero, unequivocally the novel’s evilest character, is often aligned with death but never with the Devil.
Daniel and Carax frequently describe their respective love objects, Clara and Penélope, as angelic figures. Both are ethereal women who always appear dressed in white, but neither of them provides the spiritual support and guidance expected of angels. While Daniel idolizes Clara, she turns out to be a worldly woman, taking lovers and ultimately sinking into a bitter and very human middle age. On the other hand, Penélope is almost too angelic; she’s an unobtainable and distant spirit who warps Carax’s life long after her own death, while to Nuria she’s a cold and distressing image of otherworldly perfection. The Aldaya mansion is also filled with sinister references to angels. Its seemingly innocuous nickname, “The Angel of Mist,” is actually quite ominous considering the many tragedies and deaths that occur in the house. A door carved with angels obscures the cellar where Penélope’s body is hidden, and a statue of an “avenging angel” in the garden eventually spears Fumero and kills him.
Characters often believe in angels or attribute everyday misfortune to the Devil, and Zafón gently pokes fun at this religiosity, at one point describing a radio game show that asks ridiculous multiple-choice questions about the Devil’s appearance. It’s worth remembering that the Franco regime was highly religious, so any stabs at religion are an implicit attack on government conservatism. On another level, the idea of angels and devils interceding in ordinary life is so appealing because it’s evidence that events follow a divine, predetermined order. By juxtaposing angelic and demonic descriptions with actual character, Zafón undermines this idea and suggests that such an order cannot really exist, and humans are responsible for their own actions.
Angels and Devils Quotes in The Shadow of the Wind
Sophie refused to reveal the identity of the child’s father…Antoni Fortuny decided that it must be the devil, for that child was the child of sin, and sin had only one father: the One. Convinced in this manner that it had sneaked into his home and also between his wife’s thighs, the hatter took to hanging crucifixes everywhere…
It was Laín Coubert, just as I’d learned to fear him reading the pages of a book, so many years ago…I saw how the hand of the angel pierced [Fumero’s] chest, spearing him, how the accursed soul was driven out like black vapor, falling like frozen tears over the mirror of water.