In "Just Lather, That's All," is the barber a hero or a coward?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At first glance, the barber seems like a coward because he has the opportunity to kill his enemy, Captain Torres, when he comes to his shop for a shave. But after mulling it over, the barber does not go through with the murder and lets the captain leave his shop unharmed.

When we consider the barber's motivations, however, it is clear that he is more of a hero than a coward. He prides himself on being a "conscientious barber," for example, and wants to protect his good reputation in the community. Moreover, he has no desire to commit such an extreme act of violence, even though the captain has killed many of his own friends and comrades. As such, the barber is a hero because he is an ethical and moral man who lets his conscience determine his course of action, even though he knows that the other rebels expect him to murder the captain:

"So it was going to be very difficult to explain that I had him right in my hands and let him go peacefully—alive and shaved."

vnessawong21 | Student

The barber can be identified as both a hero or a coward depending on the side the reader chooses to view it from. The barber can be characterized as a coward because in the end he does not kill Captain Torres instead he backs out because of fear and let's him live despite Captain Torres massacring dozens of his friends. However, the barber can also be known as a hero because in the end he holds a high ethical code of not killing no matter what the person has done. This can be compared to Batman, a hero who refuses to kill. 

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Just Lather, That's All

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