Courage can be defined in different ways. In this story, it is defined through inaction rather than action, by taking a rationale stand over raw emotions. The barber was brave enough to not let drawn into emotions and listened to the call of his conscience.
He was brave to not cut the captain neck in place of his beard. He was brave to withstand his provocation and cruel description of the murders he had committed.
In a strange way, the captain was also intrepid in his resolution to visit the barbershop even when he knew it was run by an enemy informant. He took a leap of faith and turned out to be right in his assessment that killing is never easy or morally acceptable.
The story focuses on the call of conscience. Humanity is the first causality of war and it was true even in this case. The captain is shown to be brutal and deserving of a painful end while the barber has a golden opportunity to ext revenge and restore justice for his regime.
However, his conscience would not allow him to take a life even it is of a tyrant. On the other hand, even the captain confesses that killing can never be justified and it always takes a heavy toll on the murderer.
The ending of the story also celebrates the realization that peace can only come through life and not violence. Therefore, taking the moral route is the only true solution to lasting peace.
The story has an interesting take on destiny. Captain Torres knows about the barber’s truth as an informant. But he takes a chance by letting him shave him while his eyes were closed.
Similarly, the barber had a choice to either kill him or let him leave unscathed. By the former, he would have become an instant hero among his people. However, he chose the latter and invited the ire of his comrades but kept his moral integrity intact.