Rivals on opposing sides of the political unrest that encompases Hernando Tellez's short story, "Just Lather, That's All," the barber and the captain each have a secret that they hide from one another. The author reveals the barber's secret from the start: He is a rebel, working undercover at the job he values and at which he excels. The captain's secret is not revealed until the end of the story: He has been told of the barber's true identity and has come to see for himself.
Captain Torres is ruthless and relentless, spending days at a time hunting down the revolutionaries before torturing and executing those he captures. But he is also brave, sitting with eyes closed as the barber stands above with a razor that can just as easily cut his throat as it can remove his four-day beard. It is obvious that Torres values his position of authority and believes in his cause--a very visible and identifiable symbol in the town.
The barber, however, hides behind his cutter's guise and smock. He finds the captain's treatment of his people reprehensible, but he cannot find the courage to kill his foe when he has the chance. Instead, he justifies his barber's code--to never needlessly spill a drop of the customer's blood--as his reason to let Torres walk away from his shop. Although the captain's evil brutality is no cause for admiration, the barber's cowardly reluctance to put an end to Torres' terror is equally ignoble.