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Literary Paper “Just Lather That’s All” Essay, Research Paper

Hernando T?llez?, ?Just Lather, That?s All?, is written informally and in the first person. The story is written with somewhat of a slanted point of view, as seen through the barber?s eyes. The story includes many conflicts between different sides and imagery and symbols are used to communicate unspoken works and feelings between the barber and Captain Torres. But most importantly, T?llez uses imagery and symbols when describing Captain Torres and also with the shaving cream and razor blade.

T?llez uses animalistic features and actions when describing Captain Torres. ?He said nothing when he entered (p.428).? When an animal first enters a room is as if they creep in the room silently, which is exactly how T?llez seems to describe Torres in the beginning of ?Just Lather, That?s All?. Animals have fur and are rugged. T?llez describes Torres as having a ?four day beard? (p.428). T?llez is trying to have us see through the barber?s eyes to see how inhumane and cruel Torres can be.

The shaving cream represents a security blanket for the barber and a barrier between the barber and Captain Torres. At the beginning, when the barber puts on shaving cream, he is thinking rationally and calmly. He asks Torres about his career and ?got on with the job of lathering his beard? (p.428). With each stroke of the blade there is less shaving cream remaining on Torres? face. And with the less shaving cream on Torres? face the less rationally the barber thinks. He thinks about how ?One of the tiny pores could be opened up and issue forth its pearl of blood.? The barber?s mind starts rambling thinking about ?How many of us had he ordered to be shot? How many of us had he ordered to be mutilated? (p.429)? When there is only little spots of shaving cream left on Torres? face the barber can?t even think clearly. The thinks to himself ?A little more lather here, under his chin, on his Adam?s apple, on his big vein…[And] I, with the razor in my hands can?t even think clearly?how easy it would be to kill him. And he deserves it? Does he? (p. 430)? With shaving cream on Torres face the barber seems to think clearly, but with only a little remaining it is hard for him to think clearly and rationally.

The blade represents the power the barber has. The barber ?took the razor, opened up the two protective arms, exposed the blade and began the job.? Suddenly it seems the barber opens up his rationalism and lets it loose and exposes his internal strength and courage. Every time the blade is cleaned, the barber reminds himself ?I am a [good] barber, who does things properly? (p.429). It?s almost as if when the razor is dirty, this courage and strength dissipates. With the blade in his hands, the barber feels in control, like he could change the fate of many in his hands. He believed the people would say, ?A name to remember?He was the town barber. No one knew he was defending our cause? (p.430). He thought he could be a hero if he killed Torres and he never thought in this way before the razor blade was opened. The barber received strength from the razor blade, and T?llez showed this through symbolism.

The imagery and symbolism used in ?Just Lather, That?s All?, by Hernando T?llez helps show the unspoken conversations between Captain Torres and the barber. The symbols are used frequently throughout the story and are used logically. The imagery is used often but not as frequently as the symbolism. T?llez uses these styles of writing nicely and logically, so his readers can read between the lines and figure out what he is saying so he doesn?t have to come right out and say it.

Tellez, Hernando. “Just Lather, That’s All”.

Thresholds: Literature-Based Composition.

Ed. J. Sterling Warner. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 1997. 427-431


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