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Though Captain Torres and the barber are mortal enemies in the Hernando Tellez short story, "Just Lather, That's All," they both have similar character traits.
Both are very serious about their professions. Torres has just spent four days hunting down rebels, and after he finishes his shave, he will execute them for the whole town to see. He risks his life daily by faithfully (though cruelly) ridding the town of his enemies. Though the barber can kill Torres at any moment with a stroke of his razor, he is a slave to the barber's code to never spill a drop of the customer's blood. Torres has come to pay for a shave, and that is what he will receive--just lather, that's all.
Similarly, they are both politically motivated, though on opposite sides. They are both relatively quiet men, for they only speak of matters at hand, with none of the usual small talk found between barber and client. They are both secretive: Each holds a special bond with one another that Torres breaks in the end.
Perhaps, above all, they both find that "killing isn't easy."
On the other hand, the barber trembles, sweats and feels pale as he shaves his enemy. He does not have the courage to kill the man who has murdered so many of his friends because he is afraid of the outcome.
...But what would I do with the body? Where would I hide it? I would have to flee, leaving all I have behind, and take refuge far away, far, far away. But they would follow until they found me. "Captain Torres' murder. He slit his throat while he was shaving him. A coward."
Torres' death would make the barber a hero, a martyr, but he doesn't have the inclination to die just yet.
The ruthless Torres shows courage throughout. His face is the most visible in the town, but he appears in public without regard for his own safety--an easy target for an assassin's bullet. He sitsquietly and shuts his eyes, allowing the barber to expose his secret. Torres is ready to sacrifice himself to expose one more rebel, but the barber refuses to take the bait.
why does the story end that short....
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