Reading Guide and Discussion Questions

Name: ___________________________________ Date: _______ Subject: 9/10 Literature and Composition
Reading Guide and Discussion Questions
“Lather and Nothing Else” by Hernando Tellez
MOW Practice
1. Identify what each word below is describing. It is describing an action? A feeling? A person? Use the context to help.
2. Write a guess definition for the word using context clues.
3. Complete the chart for 2 additional words not included among the 7 given words.
What the Word Describes
Context around the Word
I was stropping my best
razor…I went on honing my
razor (p. 1, 1st column)
I had not yet put the sheet on
him. I was certainly flustered. (p.
1, bottom of 1st column to top
of 2nd)
He evidently took it for granted
that I was on the side of the
existing regime (p. 1, 2nd
I finished tying the knot against
his nape, which smelt of sweat
(p. 1, 2nd column)
I…asked, with pretended
indifference: “A firing party?”
(p. 1, 2nd column)
I was secretly a revolutionary (p.
2, 1st column)
I was a conscientious barber,
proud of the way I did my job
(p. 2, 1st column)
Guess Definition
Discussion Questions: Write your answers to these questions (all parts). There is NO RIGHT ANSWER.
1. The narrator frequently refers to himself as a professional:
“I would have to shave his beard just like any other, carefully, neatly…”
“…I was a conscientious barber, proud of the way I did my job”
“…for I am a painstaking barber”
“A good barber like myself stakes his reputation on not permitting [bleeding] to happen to any of his customers”
“I am a good barber, the best in this town, and I say this in all modesty”
“You came in to be shaved. And I do my work honorably”
What is the purpose of these references to his professionalism as a barber? How would the story be different if they weren’t
2. After explaining his own professionalism and noting that he is Captain Torres’ enemy, the narrator admits, “So it was
going to be very difficult to explain how it was that I had him in my hands and then let him go in peace, alive, clean-shaven.”
To whom would it be difficult to explain that Torres left his barber shop, alive and shaved? Why?
3. Why do you think the author included this line?: “A little more lather here under the chin, on the Adam’s apple, right near
the great vein.” Does the specific language, such as “on the Adam’s apple,” do more than just paint a picture? What other
purpose might it serve?
4. Describe the moral dilemma that the narrator faces. How does his mindset change over the course of the story? Include at
least 2 examples from the text in your description.
5. Why do you think the narrator chose not to kill Captain Torres? Which of the arguments in his head do you think
convinced him not to kill Torres?
6. At the end of the story, Torres admits that he came to the narrator to find out if he would kill the Captain after “they” told
him that the barber would kill him. What purpose does that serve in the story? How does it alter your perception of the
narrator’s moral dilemma?
7. If the narrator killed Captain Torres, would you consider the narrator a murderer or a hero? Both? One more than the
other? Why?
8. If you were the narrator, would you have killed Captain Torres? Why or why not? If you could take a time machine back to
the 1920s and kill Hitler before he could slaughter millions of innocent people in the Holocaust, would you? Are these
scenarios comparable? Why or why not?
9. Write at least 1 discussion question of your own: