Explain how the dialogue between the barber and the captain contrasts with the internal monologue in the barber’s head.

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

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Both Captain Torres and the barber speak to each other as if they have no secrets from one another in the Hernando Tellez short story, "Just Lather, That's All." Torres has just returned from another roundup of rebels and needs a shave. The barber asks how the hunt has gone, and the captain responds that he has captured 14 of the wanted revolutionaries. Although the talk is deadly serious, it is nonetheless chitchat between a barber and his client. However, the barber has a secret--he is a rebel himself--and the matter-of-fact conversation with the captain is only to hide his true feelings of hate and indecision. He holds the razor in his hands, he thinks to himself, that can kill the man who has murdered and mutilated so many of his friends.

Damn him for coming, because I'm a revolutionary and not a murderer. And how easy it would be to kill him. And he deserves it. Does he? No! What the devil! No one deserves to have someone else make the sacrifice of becoming a murderer. What do you gain by it? Nothing. Others come along and still others...

But he has a dilemma: By killing Torres, he will reveal his rebel sympathies, and his value as a spy will be worthless. Additionally, he tells himself, he would be violating the barber's code--to never spill a drop of blood needlessly.

When Torres also announces his own secret at the end--that he is aware of the barber's rebel affiliations--the author reveals that both of the men have been withholding their true thoughts and that their dialogue has been part of a game between two desperate but idealistic men.

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