Just Lather, That's All

by Hernando Téllez
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How would you re-write the story "Just Lather, That's All" from the point of view of Captain Torres?

It would be a great challenge to write from the point of view of Captain Torres, and it would be fascinating to see how different the story is if we only ever see the barber through the eyes of his intended victim. Q: How would you re-write "The Smile" from the point of view of one of the three children? A: This is a very interesting idea, but I wonder whether you could really do it without destroying what makes this story so effective. It's really about how two old men are able to play on the fears and insecurities of children and make them do what they want. To then give an account from one of those children'

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This is an excellent assignment. Of course, your starting point is to realise that the story would completely change out of necessity. Part of the success of the original story is the way that the interior monologue of the unnamed barber hides a crucial fact from both him and us...

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This is an excellent assignment. Of course, your starting point is to realise that the story would completely change out of necessity. Part of the success of the original story is the way that the interior monologue of the unnamed barber hides a crucial fact from both him and us which is only revealed in the final paragraph. The fact that Captain Torres had always known about the barber's connection with the rebels completely changes our opinion of him and of all that we have read prior to that.

Telling the story from the point of view of Captain Torres would probably make us appreciate his bravery even more. Remember that first-person narratives are always partial, because they only see the action through the eyes of one character. Captain Torres would not have access to the thoughts of the barber, he would only be able to see the barber and interpret his body language. I wonder whether the barber's attempts to hide his emotions that we are shown in the original were successful. Of course, as the original goes through the thought processes that cause the barber not to kill Torres, you would likewise need to capture the uncertainty and perhaps fear of Torres as he is shaved by the barber and knows that any moment could be his last. You would also have to perhaps explain more fully why he walks out without doing anything. Good luck!

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