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The Fine Line – Character Analysis of the Barber in “Just Lather, That's All”

Most people tend to categorize a hero as a pure person and a murderer as a horrible being. They say it is as obviousas day and night, but sometimes they are wrong. Some heroes have to kill people to achieve their means, and a few murderers have heroic intentions, especially in times of war. In the short story, “JustLather, That’s All,” the barber refuses to kill Captain Torres because he sees the differences and similarities between being a hero and a murderer.

The barber, at first, views murder as somethingugly. Horrified by the hanging of the revolutionaries, he ponders on whether the man should die or not: “And how easy it would be to kill him. And he deserves it. Does he?” (pg. 126) The barber alsoclaims he is a revolutionary and not a murderer, but he eventually considers the choices given to him. Knowing he will eventually be hunted down when he takes refuge, the barber does not kill CaptainTorres, saying he is only a barber and he does his work honorably. His effort to resist the urge to kill makes him pale and nervous, showing how hard it is to send away such a bad choice.

Onthe other hand, the barber does not have a clear idea of what a hero is. When he starts to shave the captain, he believes killing the man would result in him becoming a hero to the rebels: “And then onthe other side. ‘The avenger of us all. A name to remember. (And here they would mention my name.) He was the town barber. No one knew he was defending our cause.” (pg. 127) Because the barber is partof the revolutionaries, any action against Torres’ army would be considered heroic. However it is only a fleeting thought; the barber immediately realizes the consequences of murder and is trappedbetween the choice of murder and the choice of letting Torres go (which, of course, is unforgivable to the revolutionaries). After shaving the captain, the barber is slightly relieved of his burden,...
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