The last time that the narrator and Captain Torres met was under very different circumstances. Captain Torres, as befitting his job as chief persecutor of the rebels, had captured some rebels and had organised a little "demonstration" for the village to show them what would happen to anyone who would rebel against the military regime that he represents. As the narrator reflects, this first time that they had met he hadn't paid much attention to the face of Captain Torres, even though he, like all the villagers, had to file past him, because he was more preoccupied about the bodies that were hanging as an "object lesson" to him and the villagers:
The day he ordered the whole town to file into the patio of the school to see the four rebels hanging there, I came face to face with him for an instant. But the sight of the mutilated bodies kept me from noticing the face of the man who had directed it all, the face I was now about to take into my hands.
What is fascinating if we compare these two meetings is that then, the barber was completely in the power of Captain Torres. Now, the situations have reversed, and Captain Torres is completely in the power of the barber. The face that the narrator has not seen before he will now know intimately and come incredibly close to. And herein lies the decision that the barber must take.