In Just Lather, That's All, what does Captain Torres represent? 

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

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Tellez based his tale very firmly in South America in the latter half of the 20th century, which faced various military dictatorships that were met with rebel uprisings. One of the reasons this story is so effective is that Tellez presents us with one character who is a representative of the military junta, which is clearly Captain Torres, and another who is a representative of the rebels, who is the barber that narrates the story to the reader. From the moment that he enters the barber's shop, it is clear that Torres is meant to represent military dictatorship that crushes all opposition in its wake. Consider his initial description:

At that moment be took off the bullet-studded belt that his gun holster dangled from. He hung it up on a wall hook and placed his military cap over it. Then be turned to me, loosening the knot of his tie, and said, "It's hot as hell. Give me a shave." He sat in the chair.

Whether it is the "bullet-studden belt," the "military cap" or the imperious way he demands a shave, it is clear that Torres is a force to be reckoned with, and as the text continues, this impression is only confirmed as he tells the barber of his plans to torture the rebels that he caught on his latest excursion in public view. This effectively identifies the way in which Torres is symbolic of military power that so unflinchingly crushes any opposition expressed towards it.



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