Buried Child

Bradley Character Analysis

The other son of Dodge and Halie, and about five years younger than Tilden. Bradley is an amputee with a wooden leg—he supposedly cut his leg off with a chainsaw by accident. He is an aggressive bully toward his father, his older brother, and Vince’s girlfriend Shelly. At the end of each of the first two acts, Bradley asserts his authority by demonstrating his physical power over another character, but in the third act he is finally emasculated when his prosthetic leg is taken away from him.

Bradley Quotes in Buried Child

The Buried Child quotes below are all either spoken by Bradley or refer to Bradley. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Buried Child published in 2006.
Act 1 Quotes

Halie’s Voice: Tilden’s the oldest. He’ll protect you.

Dodge: Tilden can’t even protect himself.

Related Characters: Dodge (speaker), Halie (speaker), Tilden, Bradley
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

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You’ve gotta watch out for him. It’s our responsibility. He can’t look after himself anymore, so we have to do it. Nobody else will do it. We can’t just send him away somewhere. If we had lots of money we could send him away. But we don’t. We never will. That’s why we have to stay healthy. You and me. Nobody’s going to look after us. Bradley can’t look after us. Bradley can hardly look after himself… I had no idea in the world that Tilden would be so much trouble. Who would have dreamed? Tilden was an All-American, don’t forget. Don’t forget that. Fullback. Or quarterback. I forget which.

Related Characters: Halie (speaker), Dodge, Tilden, Bradley
Page Number: 25-26
Explanation and Analysis:

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Halie: I don’t know what’s come over you, Dodge. I don’t know what in the world’s come over you. You’ve become an evil man. You used to be a good man.

Dodge: Six of one, half a dozen of another.

Halie: You sit here day and night, festering away! Decomposing! Smelling up the house with your putrid body! Hacking your head off till all hours of the morning! Thinking up mean, evil, stupid things to say about your own flesh and blood!

Dodge: He’s not my flesh and blood! My flesh and blood’s buried in the back yard!

The Baby

Related Characters: Dodge (speaker), Halie (speaker), Bradley
Page Number: 32-33
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2 Quotes

Yeah, he used to be a big deal. Wore lettermen’s sweaters. Had medals hanging all around his neck. Real purty. Big deal. This one too. You’d never think it to look at him would ya? All bony and wasted away.

Related Characters: Bradley (speaker), Dodge, Tilden, Shelly
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Hey! Missus. Don’t talk to me like that. Don’t talk to me in that tone a’ voice. There was a time when I had to take that tone a’ voice from pretty near everyone. Him, for one! Him and that half brain that just ran outa’ here. They don’t talk to me like that now. Not any more. Everything’s turned around now. Full circle. Isn’t that funny?

Related Characters: Bradley (speaker), Dodge, Tilden, Shelly
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 3 Quotes

Dodge: You forgot? Whose did you think this house was?

Shelly: Mine. I know it’s not mine but I had this feeling.

Dodge: What feeling?

Shelly: The feeling that nobody lives here but me. I mean everybody’s gone. You’re here, but it doesn’t seem like you’re supposed to be. Doesn’t seem like he’s supposed to be either. I don’t know what it is. It’s the house or something. Something familiar. Like I know my way around here. Did you ever get that feeling?

Related Characters: Dodge (speaker), Shelly (speaker), Bradley
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Halie: Ansel’s getting a statue, Dodge. Did you know that? Not a plaque but a real live statue. A full bronze. Tip to toe. A basketball in one hand and a rifle in the other.

Bradley: He never played basketball!

Halie: You shut up, Bradley! You shut up about Ansel! Ansel played basketball better than anyone! And you know it! He was an All American! There’s no reason to take the glory away from others.

Related Characters: Halie (speaker), Bradley (speaker), Dodge, Ansel
Page Number: 97-98
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Don’t come near me! Don’t anyone come near me. I don’t need any words from you. I’m not threatening anybody. I don’t even know what I’m doing here. You all say you don’t remember Vince, okay, maybe you don’t. Maybe it’s Vince that’s crazy. Maybe he’s made this whole family thing up. I don’t even care anymore. I was just coming along for the ride. I thought it’d be a nice gesture. Besides, I was curious. He made all of you sound familiar to me. Every one of you. For every name, I had an image. Every time he’d tell me a name, I’d see the person. In fact, each of you was so clear in my mind that I actually believed it was you. I really believed that when I walked through that door that the people who lived here would turn out to be the same people in my imagination. Real people. People with faces. But I don’t recognize any of you. Not one. Not even the slightest resemblance.

Related Characters: Shelly (speaker), Dodge, Halie, Bradley, Vince
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Bradley Character Timeline in Buried Child

The timeline below shows where the character Bradley appears in Buried Child. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...is going out to meet the minister Father Dewis for lunch, and that their son Bradley will be coming over later to cut Dodge’s hair. Dodge adamantly refuses to let Bradley... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
...because Tilden can no longer take care of himself. She also reveals that their son Bradley accidentally cut off his leg with a chainsaw, and so he can’t be depended on... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Halie goes on to admit that once Tilden and Bradley exposed themselves as failures, she placed her hopes in her youngest son, Ansel. Halie finally... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
...upsetting Tilden, but Halie warns the men that they’d better clean up the mess before Bradley comes and sees it. A short argument ensues where Dodge insults Bradley, disowning him as... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
...however, Dodge refuses to take it off—he wants to protect himself against a haircut from Bradley. (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
After a few moments, Bradley enters from the screen porch. His left leg is a wooden prosthetic, and he walks... (full context)
Act 2
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
...toward Tilden, but he falls. Tilden continues to tell Shelly that not even Halie or Bradley know where the corpse of the baby is buried. Meanwhile Shelly moves to help Dodge,... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
The squeaking of a wooden leg is heard and Bradley enters. He sees Shelly and begins to interrogate her, asking who she is and what... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Bradley accuses Shelly of being with Tilden, mocking her by saying that women like men who... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
When Shelly offers to help Dodge, Bradley mocks her by saying that they should drown Dodge instead. Terrified, Shelly tells Bradley to... (full context)
Act 3
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
The next morning, the rain has stopped and sun shines into the living room. Bradley sleeps on the couch, his prosthetic leg detached nearby. Dodge sits against the television, visibly... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
...feels different—that last night she was afraid, but she isn’t today. Dodge assures her that Bradley is nothing to be afraid of, and suggests that he’d be even more useless if... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
...that the house feels familiar, like it’s empty except for her, and that Dodge and Bradley seem out of place. (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
...covering the prosthetic leg with it. When Dodge protests, Halie whips the blanket off of Bradley, revealing his amputated leg, and throws the blanket on Dodge. Bradley wakes with a start... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...she claims that a statue of Ansel, holding a basketball and rifle, will be built. Bradley interjects that Ansel never played basketball, but Halie tells him to shut up. (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
...Meanwhile Dodge begs for alcohol, Shelly yells at Halie to pay attention to her, and Bradley yells at Shelly for disrespecting his mother. (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
As Halie laments the state of the family, Bradley steals the blanket back from Dodge, causing a ruckus. In a rage, Shelly takes the... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
Bradley calls Shelly a prostitute, and the two begin to argue. Shelly takes the fur coat... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
When Halie threatens to call the police, Bradley implores her not to, and Shelly chides the family for keeping their gruesome secret. Bradley,... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
Despite protestations from Halie and Bradley, Dodge recounts how Halie had a baby, and apparently the child was Tilden’s. Tilden was... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
...testament. While Dodge delivers his speech, Vince keeps the prosthetic leg away from a whimpering Bradley, and goes to smell Father Dewis’ roses. (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
As Vince continues to taunt Bradley with the leg, Father Dewis comes down the stairs. Vince throws the leg out of... (full context)