An Apathetic Man
In "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," Flannery O'Connor introduces a number of characters among whom an elderly grandmother and an escaped convict known as the Misfit are generally predominate. While these two characters occupy center stage in much of the narrative and dialogue, other characters such as the grandmother's son, Bailey, are also vital actors in the drama that unfolds and culminates with a mass murder. The thesis to be addressed herein is that in the personae of Bailey, O'Connor has created a man who is largely apathetic, influenced by others, and ultimately helpless to prevent the massacre of his family. Consequently, Bailey is in no way the "good man" of O'Connor's title.
The reader is introduced to Bailey as the story unfolds: "Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy (2501)." Though Bailey has allowed his aggressive, domineering, and interfering mother to live with his family (which consists of Bailey, his wife, and three children), he has learned to ignore his mother rather than to confront her. When the grandmother suggests that the family vacation should target east Tennessee rather than Florida, Bailey's response is typical of his attitude: "Bailey didn't look up from his reading (2501)."
Despite his mother's nagging, Bailey simply packs his family up to take them on a trip to Florida despite the fact that a convict called the Misfit has broken out of a federal penitentiary and is expected of being in the area. Bailey's apathy is evident in the trip to Florida not so much because of his actions, but because of his verbal absence from the story line.
For example, while O'Connor (2502) points out that the mother talks incessantly and even "cautioned Bailey that the speed limit was 55 miles an hour and that the patrolmen his themselves behind billboards" Bailey is largely silent. The only voices that are heard in the first part of the trip are those o...