What are three reasons that the barber didn't kill Captain Torres in "Just Lather, That's All?"

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bullgatortail's profile pic

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

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Above all else, the barber did not want to commit the greatest sin of his profession--to spill a drop of the customer's blood. Killing Captain Torres while performing his barbering duties went against the unwritteen barber's code. Additionally, the barber considered it a cowardly act of murder, killing the captain while his eyes were closed. He believed that killing the captain in this manner would make him no better than his victim. Also, the barber knew that he would be identified as the killer--murderer or hero, he knew not which--and he had nowhere to go to hide from the men who would be hunting for him. Killing the captain would also reveal his true identity as a spy for the rebels, and by blowing his cover, he would no longer be useful as an operative.

kmj23's profile pic

kmj23 | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

In "Just Lather, That's All," there are a number of reasons which contribute to the barber's decision not to kill Captain Torres. Here are three of them:

  1. The barber describes himself as being "conscientious" and, in his world, this means that he never spills a "pearl" of his client's blood. Killing the Captain would, therefore, sully his reputation and eliminate his respectability.
  2. The barber believes that murder is wrong because it goes against his principles. He identifies as a "revolutionary" and this is, in his opinion, very different from being a murderer.
  3. The barber realises that murdering the Captain would create more problems than it would solve. Instead of ending the conflict, for instance, it would enable it to continue because members from both sides would use murder to bring about retribution: 

"Others come along and still others, and the first ones kill the second ones and they the next ones and it goes on like this until everything is a sea of blood."


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