In "Just Lather, That's All," what does the narrator say about his fate?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is another good question about this excellent short story that contains a massive surprise at the end. The barber regrets intensely the position that fate or "destiny" has placed him in. He is forced to make a decision which he would rather not make. On the one hand, he could choose to do his job well as a barber, which is a very important thing for him, but on the other hand he could kill Captain Torres for the cause of the rebels. As he puts it:

My destiny depends on the edge of this blade.

However, after this realization, he then has a kind of epiphany or sudden understanding about his role in life or his fate:

But I don't want to be a murderer. You came to me for a shave. And I perform my work honourably... I don't want blood on my hands. Just lather, that's all. You are an executioner and I am only a barber. Each person has his own place in the scheme of things.

Thus the narrator, he realises, is fated not to have blood on his hands, "just lather, that's all." He recognizes his place in the "scheme of things," just as surely as he recognizes the place of Captain Torres. This seems to indicate a grudging acceptance of the roles that fate has given them and also the beginnings of a respect for Captain Torres and the job that he does - the job that the barber is unable to do.