In "Just Lather, That's All," what is a symbol that has been used?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A very important symbol in this excellent short story that is used to explore the character of the barber himself is of course the razor that he is holding and currently using to shave the neck of Captain Torres. Throughout the story the meanings that the barber gives to the tool of his trade change and show his conflicting emotions, on the one hand being something that he uses to "rejuvenate" Captain Torres, but on the other hand, being something he could use to end his life. Note what the barber says about his razor:

My destiny depends on the edge of this blade. I can turn my hand a bit more, press a little harder on the razor, and sink it in. The skin would give way like silk, like rubber, like the strop. There is nothing more tender than human skin and the blood is always there, ready to pour forth. A blade like this doesn't fail. It is my best. But I don't want to be a murderer, no sir.

The razor is thus a very complicated and important symbol to the barber whose importance determines the ending of the story and the decision that the barber eventually makes regarding his responsibility and what he should do.


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