A Good Man Is Hard to Find

by: Flannery O’Connor

Bailey Quotes

Quotes Bailey Quotes
She asked Bailey if he would like to dance but he only glared at her. He didn’t have a naturally sunny disposition like she did and trips made him nervous.

The family stops at a barbecue joint where “The Tennessee Waltz” is playing on the jukebox. The grandmother, feeling nostalgic, wants to dance. Here, the narrator explains why Bailey refuses to join her. The description of their contrasting personalities seems to reflect the grandmother’s point of view. In reality, Bailey probably feels not so much nervous as harassed by his mother’s endless chitchat and his children’s constant fighting. He may also consider his mother’s request odd but avoids saying so.

“All right!” he shouted and drew the car to a stop at the side of the road. “Will you all shut up? Will you all just shut up for one second? If you don’t shut up, we won’t go anywhere. . . . All right . . . but get this: this is the only time we’re going to stop for anything like this. This is the one and only time.”

Bailey finally breaks down and agrees to a side trip after his mother and children loudly and even violently demand to go to see the house with the secret panel. Bailey has no interest in seeing the house, and he definitely would prefer to stay on the main road, but he concedes to the trip. He seemingly feels he has no choice, being so loudly outnumbered. The family’s behavior shows that Bailey does not command respect as some fathers might. Either by choice or simply by personality, he fails to intimidate.

”[I]t would have been better for all of you, lady, if you hadn’t of reckernized me.” Bailey turned his head sharply and said something to his mother that shocked even the children. The old lady began to cry and The Misfit reddened.

After the grandmother points out that the man in front of her is an escaped criminal, The Misfit informs her of her fatal mistake. Clearly, he will now have to kill the family to protect his identity and remain free. Realizing the implications, Bailey swears at his mother. The fact that the words come out of him so quickly suggests he now expresses ideas that he has thought before.

“Hush!” Bailey yelled, “Hush! Everybody shut up and let me handle this!” He was squatting in the position of a runner about to sprint forward but he didn’t move.

After the grandmother tries to convince The Misfit to change his ways, Bailey asks for her silence so that he can deal with the family’s predicament. Bailey knows that protecting them is his job, and he wants and even intends to do so: His physical stance indicates a desire to take physical action, but he remains paralyzed. In fairness to Bailey, even a more effectual man would be powerless against three men with guns.

“Listen,” Bailey began, “we’re in a terrible predicament! Nobody realizes what this is,” and his voice cracked. His eyes were as blue and intense as the parrots in his shirt and he remained perfectly still.

After The Misfit asks Bailey and his son to “step back in them woods,” Bailey understands that his family is about to be murdered. His words imply that he thinks that he is the only person aware of what is happening. However, Bailey’s statement only reflects how out of touch he seems, since all of the adults present know “what this is” and the perpetrators make up half of his listeners. As such, the identity of Bailey’s intended listener remains unclear.