In the short story "Just Lather, Thats All", how does the last paragraph of the story make the reader reconsider their interpretation of the story?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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There is a surprise ending and a role reversal of sorts at the end of "Just Lather, That's All" that makes the reader think twice about the facts of the story. First, the reader finds that Captain Torres has come to the barbershop not only for a shave, but because he suspects that the barber is a spy for the rebels. He risks his own life to test the resolve of the barber, and in the end, we find that Torres is human, too. Despite his vicious pursuit of the rebels, and the tortures and executions he has perpetrated, Torres is a brave man who does not enjoy killing.

"They told me that you'd kill me. I came to find out. But killing isn't easy. You can take my word for it." And he headed down the street.

The barber is left in a quandary. He has missed his chance to kill Torres, and now Torres suspects (or possibly even knows) that he is alligned with the rebels. Or, does Torres believe the barber is an innocent civilian, since he failed to cut the captain's throat when he had the chance? The barber has honored his code of not spilling blood, but he must still wonder if he made the right decision.

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