Released from his heavy workload at the bookstore by the arrival of Fermín, Daniel devotes himself to investigating Julian Carax and spending time with his old friend Tomás Aguilar. Although Tomás is thoughtful and gifted, he looks like a bully, and in fact he first met Daniel after beating him up for making fun of his older sister. After Daniel refused to tell on Tomás, the two became friends.
Tomás is important because Daniel’s strong friendship with him will emerge as one of many parallels between his life and Carax’s. Although Tomás appears and sometimes acts traditionally masculine, his inner character is much more complex and not limited to traditional gender roles.
Despite his gifts and good temper, Tomás’s narrow-minded father Mr. Aguilar believes he’s “fainthearted and mentally deficient.” He bullies Tomás and plans to send him to military service to toughen him up.
Because Tomás isn’t as masculine as his father would wish, Mr. Aguilar assumes that something is wrong with him. Like many parents in the book, he blames his child for failing to conform to his conventional expectations.
Daniel dislikes Tomás’s glamorous older sister, Bea, who looks likes a movie star and has a rich Falangist boyfriend named Pablo Buendía, a soldier who likes to talk about “the genetic and spiritual superiority” of the Spanish. Daniel believes Beatriz is amused by her boyfriend’s “inanities,” but she never corrects him publicly.
Unlike Tomás, Pablo is every inch a conventional man. He’s also intolerant and stupid, a figure of ridicule to the much more intelligent Daniel. Here, Zafón shows his disdain for characters who conform too rigidly to social and political expectations.