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Lather and Nothing Else
Interactive Literature Selections

Investigate, Inquire, and Imagine, page 169


1a. Describe Torres's entrance into the barber shop. Describe the barber's reaction to Torres's entrance.

2a. When did the narrator last cross paths with Torres? What kept him from looking at Torres's face then?

3a. What does the narrator say about his fate?


1b. What might these details reveal about each character?

2b. How is the narrator's confrontation in the barber shop with Torres different from the last time they crossed paths?

3b. What do you think he means by this?


4a. Identify the relationship that exists between the narrator and Captain Torres. How are their occupations compared and contrasted in the selection?


4b. What is Captain Torres's real purpose in coming to the narrator for a shave? What does this reveal about his character? What does Torres admit at the end of the story? What does this reveal about his character?


5a. To what extent is each of the characters at the mercy of the other?


5b. Do you think the use of violence to bring about political change can be justified? If so, at what point does political violence cease to be justified? If not, how can political change be brought about if the party in power will not allow compromises?

Understanding Literature, page 169

Narrator and Point of View. Which passages in the selection reveal the narrator's love of his work as a barber? Which passages reveal his dedication to the revolution? How would the story be different if told from a third-person point of view? if Torres were the narrator?

Setting and Mood. What kind of mood does the scene in the barber shop create for the reader? Identify specific details that contribute to creating this mood.

Writer's Journal, page 170

1. Hyperbole is exaggeration for literary effect. Téllez uses an example of hyperbole in his description of the stream of blood flowing out the door and into the street. Write your own example of hyperbole.

2. Write a descriptive paragraph that describes an approaching storm. To create a mood of anticipation or foreboding, provide concrete details that describe the sights, sounds, and smells that signal the storm.

3. "Lather and Nothing Else" provides the reader with a detailed description of each step the barber takes in shaving Torres's beard. Write step-by-step instructions for a task you perform frequently or well so that someone who has never performed that task will know how to proceed.

Integrating the Language Arts, page 170

Language, Grammar, and Style

Achieving Parallelism. Read the Language Arts Survey 3.38, "Achieving Parallelism." Then evaluate the following sentences. If a sentence demonstrates parallelism, identify the words that create that parallelism. If a sentence does not achieve parallelism, rewrite it to achieve parallelism.

1. Torres was silent; the barber was nervous; the atmosphere was tense.

2. Torres is intelligent, ruthless, and has a good deal of confidence.

3. He took up the razor, opened the handle, and started to work.

4. Patiently, the barber lathered his face; dutifully, he took up the razor, and with great nervousness, he shaved his beard.

5. While shaving Torres, the barber thought about killing him; after debating the consequences, he decided against murder.

Study and Research & Media Literacy

Television Report. Use the Internet, newspaper, and/or periodicals to conduct research on a current example of political instability in the world. Is violence being used by the party in power to control the people? Are other methods of control, such as a hostile police presence or forced taxes being used? Are there factions of people using violence to bring about political change? Are any groups using nonviolent methods like civil disobedience? What are the basic issues around which the conflict revolves? Report on the situation as if you were a television reporter.

Research Log

Research Findings on Political Instability:

Sources Used:


Connotation and Denotation. A denotation of a word is its dictionary definition. A connotation of a word is all the associations it has in addition to its literal meaning. For example, the words cheap and economical both denote "inexpensive," but cheap connotes shoddy and inferior while economical connotes a good value for the money. Look at the pairs of synonyms below. How do the words in each pair differ from one another? The differences you see indicate how important the connotation of a word can be.





Author Hernando Téllez masterfully sets a mood of high emotional tension in the short story, "Lather and Nothing Else." He uses concrete details such as words that connote different aspects of conflict to draw the reader in to experience the protagonist's moral dilemma.


Consider the vocabulary word in each sentence below. Then write a synonym that has a connotation different from the mood of conflict or intensity expressed in the story. Use the synonym in a new sentence to create a different mood.

"He is a tranquil man, who is not even giving thought to what he will do to his prisoners this evening."
sedate The kindly grandmother's sedate smile appeared as she watched the toddlers play.

1. "I estimated he had a four-days' growth of beard, the four days he had been gone on the last foray after our men."

2. "He evidently took it for granted that I was on the side of the existing regime."

3. "I lifted the brush and asked, with pretended indifference: 'A firing party?'"

4. "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."

5. "I was secretly a revolutionary . . ."

6. ". . . but at the same time I was a conscientious barber, proud of the way I did my job."

7. "'Are you going to punish all of them?' I timidly ventured."

8. "The pores might open, minutely, in this area and let out a tiny drop of blood."

9. "Under the strokes of my razor Torres was rejuvenated; yes, because I am a good barber, the best in town, and I say this with all modesty."

10. "But the blood would go flowing along the floor, warm, indelible, not to be staunched, until it reached the street like a small scarlet river."

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About the Author page
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