What Is the Summary of the Book “Lather and Nothing Else” by Hernando Tellez?

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Set in a barbershop in a small Colombian town, the narrator of “Lather and Nothing Else” by Hernando Tellez is a barber tasked with shaving a man who turns out to be the leader of the opposing political party. Holding a razor, the barber faces the dilemma of whether he should kill the man, Captain Torres or let him go free. He chooses to allow Torres to live.

The story begins with Captain Torres entering the shop and hanging up his gear before getting into the chair for a shave. The barber and Captain Torres speak briefly, and Torres reveals how brutally he has treated the revolutionaries fighting his regime. The barber is one of those revolutionaries, so this exchange sparks an inner monologue where the barber weighs killing Captain Torres with allowing him to live. If the barber does not choose to kill him, his fellow rebels may question his commitment to the cause. Choosing to kill Torres while he is vulnerable in the barber’s chair, however, would make the barber as much of a murderer as Torres.

In the end, the barber decides to have “just lather” on his hands instead of blood, letting Torres survive. Torres then reveals that he knew the barber was a revolutionary and wanted to see if the barber would kill him.