“Lather and Nothing More” – Alan, Grade 10

This short haiku and the accompanying commentary are written by one of my grade 10 students based on the short story “Lather and Nothing More.”  He clearly explains the devices he has applied in order to convey the message in the short story. 

“Lather and Nothing Else”

Neck next to my blade

Slash! Blood gushes out, tainting all

Flash! Back to real life.

This haiku is based on the short story “Lather and Nothing Else” by Hernando Téllez, and it highlights the climax of the short story. It depicts the barber’s train of thought – imagining the murder of the captain and quickly snapping back to reality. It highlights the theme of how difficult it is for one to kill despite the fact that one can clearly imagine every part of the act. The haiku shows how easily the barber can kill the captain in his imagination, while in reality, it is a difficult decision for him to make. He imagines himself killing the captain, but he quickly scraps the idea, realizing the consequences of a murder. Not only will his hands and his shop be tainted literally, but his life will also be tainted, causing his reputation and career to crumble into ruins.

The juxtaposition is used between verses two and three. The two verses create a stark contrast by juxtaposing the vision of the main character and the reality. In verse two, the main character imagines murdering the captain in a swift slit, but his consciousness suddenly flashes back to reality in the third verse. In his imagination, the act of killing the captain is swift and straightforward, yet in reality, it is burdensome. The haiku illuminates the speed of how quickly the barber could kill the captain, yet the act of murder is so hard to perform that the thought exits his head as soon as it enters.

The three verses of the haiku also contain vivid imagery in order to prove that the act of killing is more difficult than one may think. “Neck next to my blade” refers to the scene where the main character is trimming the beard on the neck of the captain. The image shows how close the barber is to killing the captain. Yet, the second verse is when the barber imagines the blood gushing out, creating a gory image, where everything is covered in blood. Finally, the third verse, which starts with the word “Flash” creates the image of a sudden whiteout, which suggests how speedily the barber’s mind moves back to reality.