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“Lather and Nothing Else” Literature Analysis

The quotation I am writing this essay on is an ingenious line Dwight Lyman Moody once said: “character is what you are in the dark”, which I interpreted as “Your true colors show when no one is around looking at you” when I first read it. My position on this lens quotation is that it is true, and I unapologetically agree with Moody. In my understanding, the underlying meaning and intention of this quotation Moody wants to convey to the readers are not teaching a narrative but more to remind. In terms of the quotation’s relevance with the work of literature I have just read, the short story “Lather and Nothing Else” truly matches the idea of the quotation that how some people are forced to hide who they really are. This essay debunks the work of literature “Lather and Nothing Else” and the literary elements used in it through the lens of quotation and supports the argument that character is not who you are when everyone is watching but who you are when nobody is watching.

Hernando Tellez, in the short story, shows how the barber hides who he truly is through the description of the barber’s actions, inner thoughts, and his dedication to his job. Tellez dictates the story that the barber thinks of killing his enemy in his mind, but in his heart, he believes that murdering someone is a sin and a brutal crime. The barber has the job of shaving an enemy captain as he is characterized as a private agent for the confidential rebellion, so the barber has the constant opportunity to murder the captain. The inner struggle and thoughts he is constantly in fight with show his internal conflict, which leads him to finish his job of shaving the captain at the perfect moment. He could kill the captain, but he restrains himself from that heinous act. His thoughts and actions might seem like he is a coward, but the way he controls himself shows that he has the ability to overcome his emotions and nefarious feelings, his steepest hills. The barber’s true color is noble as he cares about his profession, spares his enemy captain, and keeps his composure throughout the story.

Tellez uses irony when the barber decides to kill the enemy captain, Torres, through “razor” his power but decides not to commit this bloody act “With the enemy in my house I felt a certain responsibility (Tellez). However, he finds out later that the captain was there to see whether he would kill his enemy or not. The barber’s hesitation to kneel before his conflicted moments show his good morality. In the middle of the story, the writer uses the element of suspense when the narrator goes back and forth whether or not kill the enemy captain, but the writer through the use of descriptive and longer sentences, slows down the pace of stressful conflicted moments of barber when he decides “I would have to shave his beard just like any other, carefully, neatly, just as though he were a good customer, taking heed that not a single pore should emit a drop of blood” (Tellez). Relating this story to the quotation, Moody wants to show the mirror to the audience to let them evaluate their true self while depicting that sometimes, who you are as a person is shown when nobody is there to witness you.

In a nutshell, every man who has come to this world through the door of birth has to go through many obstacles in life until he exits this world through the door. During all the ups and downs of life, people easily lose track of themselves and fall prey to a pretentious life. The witty saying of Moody and Tellez’s short story state the same idea that we think and act differently when we are “in the dark” because the spotlight is not on us. The quotation reminds the people that their actual self is true, as often people are in conflict with whom they struggle to be when they are in the spotlight. The condition of the barber depicts that a person’s true self and character are brought forward “in the dark” when they go through hardships and challenges, the darkness of life. In the light, we have this feeling that people may judge us critically and can see how we act, behave, or react, so we behave in a certain “pseudo-perfect” way.

Works Cited

Tellez, Hernando. “Lather and Nothing Else.” The Flight of the Condor: Stories of Violence and War from Colombia, University of Wisconsin Press, 2007.



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