Just Lather, That's All

by Hernando Téllez

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What is the relationship between Captain Torres and the barber?

Expert Answers

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Captain Torres and the barber are both enemies. The barber is a secret rebel, the sort hunted by Captain Torres and his soldiers.

The barber initially thinks that his secret has not been discovered by Captain Torres. As he nervously shaves the captain, he tries to appear nonchalant by engaging his enemy in conversation. Meanwhile, Captain Torres knows about the barber's secret revolutionary activities, although he does not let on until the end of the story.

Instead, he tells the barber to go to the local school at six o'clock that evening. There, Captain Torres is planning to execute a freshly captured group of fourteen rebels. Upon hearing this, the barber becomes visibly agitated. He remembers that this is the same captain who forced the whole town to look upon the mutilated, naked bodies of four previously executed rebels. As he performs the tasks of a barber, he toys with the idea of killing his enemy. However, he soon comes to the conclusion that he does not want to be known as a coward who executes his enemies when they are at a disadvantage. Also, he doesn't want the dubious glory of being known as a murderer.

The story ends with Captain Torres thanking the barber for his shave and acknowledging that he came to test whether the barber would kill him if he had him in his power.


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