Bailey, the grandmother’s son and father to John Wesley and June Star, serves as a voice of logic throughout the story, although he does so in a rather uptight manner. Like his mother, he often tries to assert his will over others and attempts to use his sense of authority as the man of the family to do so. Despite this strategy of toughness, however, Bailey finds himself giving into the entreaties of the grandmother on the trip and becomes increasingly unraveled as the family faces trouble. He accidentally crashes the car, shouts angry obscenities at his mother, and eventually becomes completely helpless in the face of The Misfit.
The way that the strength of his power disappears over the course of the story disrupts the stereotype of an authoritative father figure, much like the grandmother’s journey challenges her to reevaluate her definition of goodness. While this parallel is not the primary focus of the story, O’Connor’s inclusion of it invites the reader to question the legitimacy of these social stereotypes. His murder, the ultimate loss of power, also works to elicit sympathy as the grandmother cries out for him. For a set of characters who spend the vast majority of the story with tense and obnoxious attitudes, this moment offers a hint of the humanity buried within them.