Buried Child

Halie Character Analysis

Dodge’s wife, who is in her sixties. Halie attempts to ignore the bleak circumstances around her by indulging in a mix of nostalgia, religion, and extra-marital sex. She worships the somewhat fictionalized memory her third son, Ansel, who died in rather mysterious and odd circumstances. In addition, she attempts to cover up the fact she had a baby with her eldest son Tilden. During the first act Halie leaves for a lunch meeting with Father Dewis, and does not return until the following morning, in Act Three—clearly suggesting that she’s having an affair with the minister. Halie’s ideologies and behavior are often at odds. She rails against Dodge for his cynicism and nastiness, citing religion as her guide, and yet her own actions are wholly self-interested. For much of the play, Halie is present only through the sound of her voice, which is heard from offstage.

Halie Quotes in Buried Child

The Buried Child quotes below are all either spoken by Halie or refer to Halie. 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 and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Buried Child published in 2006.
Act 1 Quotes

“You should take a pill for that! I don’t see why you just don’t take a pill! Be done with it once and for all. Put a stop to it. It’s not Christian but it works. It’s not necessarily Christian, that is. We don’t know. There’s some things the ministers can’t even answer. I, personally, can’t see anything wrong with it. Pain is pain. Pure and simple. Suffering is a different matter. That’s entirely different. A pill seems as good an answer as any.”

Related Characters: Halie (speaker), Dodge
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

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Halie’s Voice: You always imagine the worst things in people.

Dodge: That’s not the worst! That’s the least of the worst!

Related Characters: Dodge (speaker), Halie (speaker)
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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Tilden: I never had any trouble.

Dodge: Tilden, your mother told me all about it.

Tilden: What’d she tell you?

Dodge: I don’t have to repeat what she told me! She told me all about it!

Related Characters: Dodge (speaker), Tilden (speaker), Halie
Page Number: 21
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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I put all my hopes in Ansel… Course then when Ansel died and left us all alone. Same as being alone. No different. Same as if they’d all died… He was a hero. Don’t forget that. Brave. Strong…

Related Characters: Halie (speaker), Ansel
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

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He was blind with love. Blind. I knew. Everyone knew. The wedding was more like a funeral. You remember? All those Italians. All that horrible black, greasy hair. The rancid smell of cheap cologne. I think even the priest was wearing a pistol. When he gave her the ring I knew he was a dead man. I knew it. As soon as he gave her the ring. But then it was the honeymoon that killed him. The honeymoon. I knew he'd never come back from the honeymoon.

Related Characters: Halie (speaker), Ansel
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

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Things keep happening while you’re upstairs, ya know. The world doesn’t stop just because you’re upstairs. Corn keeps growing. Rain keeps raining.

Related Characters: Dodge (speaker), Halie
Related Symbols: Rain, Vegetables
Page Number: 30
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

We had a baby. He did. Dodge did. Could pick it up with one hand. Put it in the other. Little baby. Dodge killed it… Dodge drowned it… Never told Halie. Never told anybody. Just drowned it… Nobody could find it. Just disappeared. Cops looked for it. Neighbors. Nobody could find it… Finally everybody just gave up. Just stopped looking. Everybody had a different answer. Kidnap. Murder. Accident. Some kind of accident.

Related Characters: Tilden (speaker), Dodge, Halie, Shelly, The Baby / Buried Child
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3 Quotes

Well, prayerfully, God only hears what he wants to. That’s just between you and me of course. In our heart of hearts we know we’re every bit as wicked as the Catholics.

Related Characters: Father Dewis (speaker), Halie
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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We can’t not believe in something. We can’t stop believing. We just end up dying if we stop. Just end up dead.

Related Characters: Halie (speaker), Dodge, Father Dewis
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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…Halie had this kid. This baby boy. She had it. I let her have it on her own. All the other boys I had had the best doctors, best nurses, everything. This one I let her have by herself. This one hurt real bad. Almost killed her, but she had it anyway. It lived, see. It lived. It wanted to grow up in this family. It wanted to be just like us. It wanted to be part of us. It wanted to pretend that I was its father. She wanted me to believe in it. Even when everyone around us knew. Everyone. All our boys knew. Tilden knew… I killed it. I drowned it. Just like the runt of a litter. Just drowned it.

Related Characters: Dodge (speaker), Halie, Tilden, Shelly, The Baby / Buried Child
Page Number: 109-110
Explanation and Analysis:

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Good hard rain. Takes everything straight down deep to the roots. The rest takes care of itself. You can’t force a thing to grow. You can’t interfere with it. It’s all hidden. It’s all unseen. You just gotta wait til it pops up out of the ground. Tiny little shoot. Tiny little white shoot. All hairy and fragile. Strong though. Strong enough to break the earth even. It’s a miracle, Dodge. I’ve never seen a crop like this in my whole life. Maybe it’s the sun. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s the sun.

Related Characters: Halie (speaker), Dodge
Related Symbols: Rain, Vegetables
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

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Halie Character Timeline in Buried Child

The timeline below shows where the character Halie 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
Rituals Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Dodge attempts to suppress a cough, but his wife Halie hears him, and she calls to him from upstairs, suggesting that Dodge take some medicine.... (full context)
Religion Theme Icon
Halie again tells Dodge to take a pill for his cough. She wonders aloud whether taking... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Halie advises Dodge not to watch any television programs that will get him excited, such as... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Halie lets Dodge know that she is going out to meet the minister Father Dewis for... (full context)
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
...fields out back. Dodge insists that there hasn’t been corn out back since 1935, and Halie’s voice confirms this from upstairs. (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
...lap. Dodge asks Tilden if he’s in some kind of trouble. He tells Tilden that Halie has already told him about some mysterious incident in New Mexico that has landed Tilden... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
From upstairs, Halie calls out to Dodge that Tilden should not be drinking anything. Unaware that Tilden can... (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... (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
Halie, completely absorbed in her story, explains that Father Dewis wants to recommend to the city... (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
Halie finally comes out of her reverie, and angrily notices the husks on the floor of... (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
Dodge reprimands Halie for upsetting Tilden, but Halie warns the men that they’d better clean up the mess... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
As Tilden begins to head out back again—against Halie and Dodge’s wishes—Dodge has another violent coughing fit. Tilden gets him some water, and Dodge... (full context)
Act 2
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
...comes downstairs, but Dodge is confused and does not recognize him. When Vince asks after Halie, Dodge responds by saying that she won’t be back for days. Dodge also reveals that... (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
...and walk 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... (full context)
Act 3
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Shelly tells Dodge that she slept in Halie’s room, where she observed the family’s history in photos, as well as crosses on the... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
...photograph depicting the whole family standing on a farm full of corn and wheat, with Halie holding a baby. Shelly says that Halie looks lost in the photo. (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Shelly and Dodge hear the sounds of Halie and Father Dewis on the porch. Dodge begs Shelly to stay and protect him. He... (full context)
Religion Theme Icon
Father Dewis jokes that deep down, he and Halie know they are “every bit as wicked as the Catholics.” Halie and Dewis flirt as... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
Embarrassed, Halie tries to clean up in the living room by taking the fur coat off of... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Rituals Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Halie asks Father Dewis, who is at a loss for words, for advice on how to... (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
Halie finds the whiskey and drinks it in front of Dodge as she claims that a... (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
Religion Theme Icon
Not allowing anyone to get a word in, Halie continues to drink and lament the deterioration of society and its values. Dewis reminds Halie... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
Shelly finally interjects that she came to the house with Vince, and Halie does not seem to immediately recognize that Vince is her grandson. As Shelly continues to... (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... (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... (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.... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Failure and the American Dream Theme Icon
The Presence of the Past Theme Icon
...takes empty liquor bottles from a paper bag and smashes them while singing. Dodge and Halie finally seem to recognize him as their grandson, but in his drunken state Vince cannot... (full context)
Family and Its Demise Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Vince’s drunken behavior continues on the porch, and when Halie asks Dewis for help, Dewis says that he’s outside of his parish. Dewis invites Halie... (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
...of the room, and Bradley crawls to retrieve it. Dewis urges Vince to go see Halie, but Vince tells Dewis that they are the only two in the house, and that... (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
Religion Theme Icon
From upstairs, we hear Halie calling out for Dodge, telling him that Tilden was right, and that the field is... (full context)