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Short Story: Just Lather

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mychelle w

on 25 July 2013

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Transcript of Short Story: Just Lather

"Just Lather, That's All"

Summary of the Story
Captain Torres walks into a barbers shop to have his beard shaved off
The barber (the protagonist) goes about performing this service while agonizing over the decision whether or not he should murder the captain or not
In the end, the barber didn't murder the captain, and the captain leaves and reveals that he heard rumours that he would be killed by the barber
Question 1:
Do you think Torres had any idea what the barber was thinking during the shave? Why or Why not?
Question 2:
Discuss the ways in which the point of view contributes to the effectiveness of the story. Consider what changes would have to be made if another point of view were used.
By: Hernando Tellez
Question 3:
What does this story say about courage, heroism, and decision-making?
Question 4:
Comment on the razor as a symbol in the story.
Yes, Captain Torres, near the end of the story, says to the barber, "They told me that you'd kill me. I came to find out. But killing isn't easy. You can take my word for it. (pg.195)" In this quote he clearly states that he had an idea of what the barber was thinking. Earlier, when the captain had first walked into the salon, "he leaned back on the chair when he saw" the barber "with the lather-covered brush" in "his hand (pg.191)" when the barber "still had to put the sheet on him(pg.191)". here one could interpret this as Torres preparing himself for the possible actions of the barber.
The story is in first person, as we can hear the thoughts and views of the barber throughout the story. This view was effective because the barber describes Captain Torres as a barbaric person and deepens his dilemma even more by showing the reader that he must be choose between murdering a barbaric man and having his hands dirtied by blood and giving up a profession he is passionate about. He shares with the reader aboout that one "day he ordered the whole town to file into the patio of the school to see the four rebels hanging there (pg.192)", naked. By letting us in on his thoughts, the mood is set as the plot progresses towards the end of the barber's service, leaving us with a feeling of suspense and urgency as he contemplates whether or not to make his move and finally initiate one of his plans. Another thing that is effective about this point of view is that it is easy for the readers to follow along with the story as the plot revolves around his dilemma.

If this story were to be told in a different point of view, some changes that would have to be made would have to be made would be how the plot would be presented to make it understandable. The plot is presented by the barber who shares the situation with us and his thoughts as the plot is him having to choose between sticking with this moral beliefs and professional duties, or risking himself and carrying out his revolutionary duties. If this plot was to be changed to the third person point of view, it would most likely be more effective if it was limited omniscient or omniscient since the conflict would be man against himself. Also the mood is set by the barber, to keep the mood, knowing the barber's thoughts would be essential. Throughout the story, not many major actions that could given away the intentions of the barber's dilemma if this story were to be told on the objective point of view, "stroking and re-stroking" his "skin, and trying to keep blood from oozing from" his "pores (pg.194) may seem be a normal, professional gesture. Or one out of fear as we are given information about what kind of things Torres has done and he may fear that if he makes wrong mood something terrible will happen..
This story shows that courage, decision-making and heroism all depend on the eye of the beholder. As the barber had contemplated before, if he were to kill Torres, the two different factions would see him through different eyes. The faction that sides with Torres would most likely see him as "Captain Torres' murderer" who "slit his throat while he was shaving - a coward (pg.194)" or an enemy. While the revolutionaries might see the barber as " the avenger (pg.194)", a hero. His method of murdering Captain Torres while shaving could be viewed as strategic by the revolutionaries or cowardly by those who support Torres. In a way, decision-making could be good or bad depending on the way some people see it. To the barber, his decision may seem right to himself as he is a "conscientious barber (pg.192)" who is "proud of the preciseness of" his "profession".
The razor in the story symbolizes many things in the story. It represents the barber's dilemma of deciding to take the risk of abandoning his professional duties for a revolutionary duty. One thing that could be said about the blade of the knife is that is one wrong turn of the wrist and he would have full-filled his revolutionary duty. Just as the barber said he could easily "cut his throat (pg.194)" as the situation was "in" his "favor". Another symbol for the razor could be the line between idealism and realism, and inaction and action. The reason why the barber was a revolutionary was because he didn't agree with the way that things were ran in town. Torres had killed many rebels in many different inhumane ways, despite how much he envisioned how much easier and better life it would be if Torres was murdered. He reasoned that life after Torres is gone, most likely, would be a chain of useless murders and nothing would be gained by it: "Others come along and still others, and the first ones kill the second ones and they the next ones and it goes on like this until everything is a sea of blood. (pg.194)". One of the barber's reasons for not murdering Torres could be to avoid these senseless killings and avoid going against his morals by dirtying his hands. In the story, the razor can be used for two different things, either as an innocent tool for hygienic purposes or a murder weapon. The barber's choice of using it as a barber's tool could represent a person' course of inaction, while using it as a murder tool could be seen as the action. The inaction of the barber was that he was constantly plotting to kill the barber while the action would have been that he actually used to razor as a weapon and killed Torres. The idea that " actions speak louder than words" is related to the quote as the barber constantly speculated around the ideas of acting or sticking to his professional duties.
By: Hernando Tellez
Prezi By: Mychelle, Louis & Henry

The protagonist of the story would be the Barber.
The antagonist would be Captain Torres and the barber himself. The Barber himself is a round character as his thoughts also describe what type of person he is(takes pride in his work, shows his morals values)
The barber would also be know as dynamic since in the beginning he thought he would become a hero if he kills the captain, but at the end he realizes the consequences of murder, and decides not to kill him instead.
Torres is a flat character, and can be somewhat of a dynamic character. He stays calm throughout the story, and we only know that he was an executioner. However, in the beginning he can be described as a cruel and bloodthristy person, but at the end he can be desccribed as a sympathetic person who understands what the protagonist is feeling.
The setting takes place in a barber shop. It's a hot summer day afternoon around 2:20pm

Mood: Frantic, uneasy

The setting is effective because it adds to the dilemma of the plot giving the barber more to consider as he debates with himself about whether or not he should murder.

Point of View
The theme of the story is the desire of the barber to kill Captain Torres but he was taken aback by the consequences " I would have to flee and take refrugee far far away. But they will follow until they found me. Captain Torres murder."
his struggle for morality "I am a revolutionary and not a murderer. And how easy it would be to kill him. And he deserves it. Does he? No! What a devil!"
inability to face tough decisions when it came to the moment
actions speak louder than words and decision he made was final.
Man vs man:
The protagonist faces Torres as he comes in his shop for a shave. Torres tests the barber of his resolve if he can actually kill by risking his own life. Torres represent the opposing force that the rebels are up against.

Man vs self:
the protagonist was trying to choose between the two sides of the dilemma: should he kill Captain Torres to stop him from killing the rebels or decide to kill the captain which will result in making his hand bloody.
Become a murderer and gain respect by his fellow rebels or maintain his job professionally and disappoint his peers.
How does the sequencing of events contribute to the story? Support your answer with examples
Irony: Verbal Irony was used when Torres mentions "Killing isnt easy. You can take my word for it." when he has already killed some many already.

Symbolism: 'Once more he leaned back and closed his eyes. I approached him with the razor poised...... The soap was drying on his face. I had to hurry.' The soap represented time the barber had in killing Captain Torres.
The story is told in the first person point of view. and is in the perspective of the barber as mentioned in our second second question.
The barber is telling his own story, and it gives us a good insight of the conflict in the story, which is the dilemma that happens in his mind.
Makes the story suspenseful and tense.
Literary Devices
An occasion in which the outcome is significantly different from what was expected or considered appropriate.
Dramatic Irony: The audience knows that the barber is a revolutionary, and believe that Torres doesn't know this until the end.
Situational Irony: The barber tries his best not to spill any blood on Torres' face even though he is a murderer and has executed many people
The art or practice of using symbols especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations
The sequencing of the events allowed us to live vicariously into the narrator which was the barber. We are able to see his thoughts and decisions through the dilemma going on in his head.
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