In "Just Lather, That's All," describe the barber's reaction to Torres's entrance into the barbershop.

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The entrance of Captain Torres into the barbershop is presented in such a way that makes it clear how dangerous a character he is and also that he feels he clearly has power over the unnamed narrator who tells us this story. When the narrator realises who it is that has just entered, he begins to "tremble" and he "hopes to conceal his emotion." Particular attention is paid to the Captain's equipment as he hangs it up:

At that moment he 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 he turned to me, loosening the knot of his tie, and said, "It's as hot as hell. Give me a shave." Then he sat in the chair.

This description of Captain Torres and the way he hangs up his belt reinforces his position as a dangerous, violent man, for these are the tools of his trade and the narrator, we later see, has seen first hand what kind of "work" the Captain is involved in. Note too the order in his words - the Captain clearly feels that he is a person to be obeyed and respected in this community.

It is clear that because the barber is associated with the rebels who Captain Torres is fighting against, having his enemy so close to him produces a response of fear and trembling as everything that Captain Torres does only serves to reinforce his position as a military power who is opposed implacably to the rebel movement.

rogal eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The barber and Torres belong to different warring factions. Torres is Captain of his faction. He has done some totally vicious things to the rebels in the barber’s group.

When Torres enters the shop, the barber trembles. He shakes because he recognizes Torres and thinks that the man knows him for who he is. The trembling could also be a sign of fear of the unknown. The barber does not know how to handle his enemy at such a close range. As he says, “I had never had him so close to me." He is unable to determine how he should act toward Torres, a man he loathes. In order to hide this reaction, he continues to sharpen his razor. However, it appears that Torres does not recognize him as a member of the rebel group. Torres wants a shave, and the barber is determined to give him one. Although the barber desires to cut Torres’s throat as he shaves him, he does not do this. This is because he is a secret informer of the rebels, and he is better able to achieve his goals in this position by maintaining a cover of innocence. Furthermore, killing Torres in his barbershop would be of little use to him, as he would have to flee and leave all his possessions behind. Also, Torres’s group would eventually catch up with him anyway to avenge their Captain’s death. As a result, he shaves Torres and lets him go.

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Just Lather, That's All

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