The arrests of alleged Al-Qaeda members in Spain reactivated a long-standing local discourse on the insoluble tensions between individual, state, and community. In two 19th century fictions and two 21st century news stories, I show how the figure of the neighbor and the framing device of the façade are invoked to explore the limitations – both negative and positive – of the liberal project in Spain. In these façade narratives, the twin behaviors of secrecy and display call attention to an imbalance between the private space of the individual and the public space of the community. The state proving inadequate as a regulator of the commerce between these two spheres, equilibrium is restored through an act of violence across the façade that separates them. This violence is at the same time the means by which individuals are accorded social recognition.