Explain the last paragraph of Just lather, That's All.  Consider different interpretations.

Expert Answers
teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The last paragraph of the story is rather short. I believe the most memorable lines in this paragraph are:

In the doorway he paused for a moment, and turning to me he said: "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 on down the street.

In the story, Captain Torres is a rebel's worst nightmare. He's also just come in for a shave, and the narrator wonders if Captain Torres knows which side he is on. It is evident by the last lines of the story that Torres does. Indeed, when he sits down for his shave, Captain Torres lazily confesses that "Without any effort I could go straight to sleep," he said, "but there's plenty to do this afternoon." This statement can be interpreted as a quiet warning to the barber not to underestimate Torres' alertness.

It is evident that the Captain has been on quite a few rebel hunts. He is as much a seasoned veteran of war as he is a master of human psychology. I present two different interpretations of Torres' assertion that 'killing isn't easy.':

1)It's not easy to kill your enemy when he is dependent on your hospitality and ultimately puts his life in your hands. For the principled warrior, there is the element of honor which becomes a matter of pride.

And I perform my work honorably. . . . I don't want blood on my hands.

The narrator's apprehension and vacillation between his conflicting emotions is telling; the possibility of being known as a coward becomes an unpleasant prospect.

"Captain Torres' murderer. He slit his throat while he was shaving him... a coward."

2)It's not easy to kill your enemy when the result of killing him doesn't really advance your cause. In the narrator's case, killing Torres in broad daylight would advertise the identity of Torres' killer too easily. Furthermore, the narrator would have to leave everything he has ever owned and everyone he has ever loved behind. It takes excellent logistical planning (and anonymity, if possible) to execute enemies with as few repercussions to the cause as possible. Furthermore, if Torres' perseverance and thoroughness is anything to go by, the narrator would find himself hunted down until he is caught (even if he managed to kill Torres).

But what would I do with the body? Where would I hide it? I would have to flee, leaving all I have behind, and take refuge far away, far, far away. But they would follow until they found me.

Read the study guide:
Just Lather, That's All

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question