Explain three ways that this story develops suspense for the reader in "Just Lather,That's All" Thank you very much!

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caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  • Imagery: Torres is introduced by his gun, his hat, and the way that he makes the barber tremble, well before he is even named. Heat is also used throughout the story both literally and metaphorically to convey tension. Finally, the extensive descriptions of a barber's work, Torres' face, the sharpness of the blade, and so forth, put us next to the barber and lead us to share his point of view.
  • Paranoia: The conversation between Torres and the barber comes across as very suspicious. Torres gives no indication that he suspects the barber, but because we do, his comments come across as smug and goading, almost like he's tempting the barber into revealing himself. Statements about how they will "amuse" themselves killing and torturing the captured rebels make Torres into a person who is easy to hate, and easy to underestimate; the barber seems contemptuous of Torres' apparent ignorance to the possibility that the barber is one of the rebels. At the same time, we wonder if the barber's disguise will become transparent, and a slip of the tongue will make Torres suspect him.
  • Time: The story progresses along with the shave. Normally we don't know how long a story will take, but we know that this story will conclude, one way or another, with the end of the shave. This puts a definite, and fairly short, time limit on the events, and the fact that a shave is a single event adds pressure to the barber; he has to make a decision now, in a manner of minutes, or the opportunity will be lost.

One additional element of suspense is the title itself: "Just lather, that's all" sounds like an explanation, excuse, or alibi. It implies that there is some doubt or ambiguity, and it communicates that there is some mystery or unanswered question in this story. What does he mean by "that's all"? Who is he talking to? etc.

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Just Lather, That's All

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