(And you should know what I am looking for – topic sentence, supporting ideas and a clincher) Suggest a theme for this story. Give at least three reasons (support from the story) for that...

(And you should know what I am looking for – topic sentence, supporting ideas and a clincher) Suggest a theme for this story. Give at least three reasons (support from the story) for that possible theme.

Thanks. At least 200 words. 

Expert Answers
amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this story, the barber goes through a real mental struggle about whether or not he should kill Captain Torres. The barber considers his decision in terms of how he may be perceived by his allies, whether he might be caught after killing Torres, how it might aid his and his allies' revolutionary efforts or if it might do nothing for the cause, and finally, if killing Torres is honorable or even ethically just. This story is reminiscent of Hamlet, who has an opportunity to kill his murderous uncle, Claudius, but hesitates, waiting for the right time to do so. Like the barber, Hamlet goes through ethical justifications and ends up putting off his revenge until the time is right and until he can expose Claudius' guilt to others. 

There is something similar going on in this story. Considering the mountain of scholarship on "Hamlet's Delay," a good theme for this story could be "The Barber's Delay." The barber delays killing Torres. This is not to say that he intends to kill him later. However, given the ongoing war between his revolutionaries and Torres' ruling, oppressive regime, it seems likely that if the barber doesn't kill him, one of his revolutionary allies will, or at least will have another opportunity to do so. 

If the theme is "The Barber's Delay," find evidence to support why he delays, or flat out refuses to kill Torres when he has the chance. Note that the barber continually mentions what a skilled barber he is. Therefore, it would be easy to slit Torres' throat. He concludes that killing Torres in this way could be perceived as supporting the revolution, but that it also might be perceived to be a dishonorable act: killing a man, albeit a murderous tyrant, when he is at his most vulnerable. The barber seems to lean in this direction: that it would be dishonorable to kill Torres at his most vulnerable. A more fitting death would be in battle. 

The barber also considers the mess it would make and this implies the difficulty he would have in cleaning it up, disposing of the body, etc. This increases the chances the barber would be caught and following this, he would probably killed and/or imprisoned and thereby, no further use to his revolutionary allies. The barber also rationalizes that if he kills Torres, there will just be another captain to take his place, rendering the elimination of Torres meaningless. 

In the end, the barber considers all of this and finally concludes that it would be dishonorable to kill Torres this way. Furthermore, the barber thinks that to do so would be to stoop to Torres' level. He's better than Torres; and by comparison, the revolutionaries' fight is more just than Torres and his regime. In this context, the barber finds a way to justify not killing Torres: 

But I don't want to be a murderer. No, sir. You came in to be shaved. And I do my work honorably. I don't want to stain my hands with blood. Just lather, nothing else. You are an executioner; I am only a barber. Each one to his job. 

Read the study guide:
Just Lather, That's All

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