What mood is created by the dialogue between the two men in the short story "Just Lather, That's All"?  

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The conversation between Captain Torres and the barber in Hernando Tellez's short story, "Just Lather, That's All," takes on a matter-of-fact tone on the surface, but the reader is given the added insight of the barber's secret: that he, too, is a rebel and an enemy of the man seated in his chair. The barber tries to remain calm as Captain Torres tells his tale of murder and mutilation, but he trembles as he prepares to shave his customer.

No doubt about it, I was upset.

Torres remains relaxed throughout as his four-day beard is carefully removed. The barber provides questions and chit-chat as he completes his work--nervous, but secure in the knowledge that his secret is safe. Tellez creates an aura of wait-and-see tension as the barber shaves the sideburns one by one, followed by the throat and chin. Will the barber use the razor for revenge, the reader wonders? When Torrez rises from the chair and reaches for his gunbelt, the climax becomes clear: The captain has a secret, too, but he has not come to kill, but for "just lather, that's all."