Till We Have Faces

Bardia Character Analysis

Bardia starts out as the captain of the palace guard and becomes one of Queen Orual’s closest advisors. He is a brave, loyal, hardworking man who always sees the good in Orual and never underestimates her strengths. He teaches her swordsmanship and never even seems to consider that her femaleness might hold her back. However, this might be in part because he doesn’t really see her as a woman—he often laments the fact that she wasn’t born a man. Orual is glad that he sees her as a comrade, but it hurts her that he doesn’t see her as a woman as well, and she attributes this to her ugliness and lack of sexual appeal. Orual eventually falls in love with Bardia and tries to keep him near her, which ultimately results in his death from overwork. Additionally, Bardia represents the religious majority of Glome: In contrast to the Fox, he believes that Psyche’s sacrifice cured Glome’s troubles, and that she really is married to the god and living in his palace.

Bardia Quotes in Till We Have Faces

The Till We Have Faces quotes below are all either spoken by Bardia or refer to Bardia. 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:
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt edition of Till We Have Faces published in 2012.
Part 1: Chapter 9 Quotes

While I was in there, one of the other soldiers... came into the passage and said something to Bardia. Bardia replied, I couldn’t hear what. Then he spoke louder: “Why, yes, it’s a pity about her face. But she’s a brave girl and honest. If a man was blind and she weren’t the King’s daughter, she’d make him a good wife.” And that is the nearest thing to a love-speech that was ever made me.

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), Bardia
Related Symbols: Faces
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 1: Chapter 15 Quotes

He made it to be as if, from the beginning, I had known that Psyche’s lover was a god, and as if all my doubtings, fears, guessings, debatings, questionings of Bardia, questionings of the Fox, all the rummage and business of it, had been trumped-up foolery, dust blown in my own eyes by myself. You, who read my book, judge. Was it so?

Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 1: Chapter 18 Quotes

“Fool!” I said to myself. “Have you not yet learned that you are that to no one? What are you to Bardia? ...His heart lies at home with his wife and her brats. If you mattered to him he’d never have let you fight. What are you to the Fox? His heart was always in the Greeklands. You were, maybe, the solace of his captivity. They say a prisoner will tame a rat. He comes to love the rat—after a fashion. But throw the door open, strike off his fetters, and how much’ll he care for the rat then?”

Related Characters: Orual (The Queen) (speaker), The Fox, Bardia, Ansit
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:
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Part 2: Chapter 1 Quotes

And so take away from him his work, which was his life... and all his glory and his great deeds? Make a child and a dotard of him? Keep him to myself at that cost? Make him so mine that he was no longer his? ...He was to live the life he thought best and fittest for a great man—not that which would most pleasure me.

Related Characters: Ansit (speaker), Orual (The Queen), Bardia
Page Number: 264
Explanation and Analysis:
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Oh, Queen Orual, I begin to think you know nothing of love.... Perhaps you who spring from the gods love like the gods. Like the Shadowbrute. They say the loving and the devouring are all one, don’t they? ...You’re full fed. Gorged with other men’s lives, women’s too: Bardia’s, mine, the Fox’s, your sister’s—both your sisters’.

Related Symbols: Ungit
Page Number: 264-65
Explanation and Analysis:
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Bardia Character Timeline in Till We Have Faces

The timeline below shows where the character Bardia appears in Till We Have Faces. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Chapter 5
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
...the Priest says the Accursed is in the palace, he cries treason and calls for Bardia, the captain of the guards. (full context)
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The King orders Bardia to kill the temple guards waiting outside. Bardia is skeptical, and the Priest of Ungit... (full context)
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When Bardia leaves, the King takes out his dagger and puts it to the Priest of Ungit’s... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 6
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...from the King’s beatings, but she goes to the room where Psyche has been imprisoned. Bardia is guarding the door and says he can’t let Orual in, even when she protests.... (full context)
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Bardia praises Orual’s effort with the sword, expressing regret that she’s not a man. She wishes... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 7
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...and she has become as cruel as the gods. Just as Psyche begins to cry, Bardia knocks. To spare the feelings of those who have had similar experiences, Orual does not... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 9
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...fly crawling up the door, she thinks her life is like the fly’s mindless progress. Bardia appears and tells her that he, too, has felt the depression she feels. Only fighting... (full context)
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Bardia equips Orual with a shield and tells her to use it as a weapon. He... (full context)
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Orual takes lessons from Bardia every day, and it makes her feel better, although she still grieves. She tells him... (full context)
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Six days later, Orual and Bardia set off early in the morning. Only the Fox and Orual’s servants know of their... (full context)
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...the Mountain rises in towers of black stone. Orual no longer has to battle happiness. Bardia points out the Holy Tree. They descend into the valley on foot and climb towards... (full context)
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Bardia says that the god must have taken Psyche, because no animal would have been able... (full context)
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Orual insists that they keep searching in this direction. Bardia wants her to stay behind because no one has ever been to the other side... (full context)
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...a steep slope leading into a gorgeous, green valley. As they descend, it gets warm. Bardia wonders if this is the god’s valley. At the bottom, Orual is about to drink... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 10
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Orual laughs and cries with joy until Bardia warns her that it could be Psyche’s ghost, but then he exclaims that she is... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 11
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...oncoming winter. Psyche resigns herself to the fact that they can’t see the same thing. Bardia, who might judge which of them sees reality, can’t cross the river. (full context)
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...begins to hate Psyche and tries to drag her away, intending to hide Psyche in Bardia’s house until she comes to her senses. But Psyche is stronger. When they stop wrestling,... (full context)
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...wonderful soon. She goes back into the valley, and Orual calls into the twilight for Bardia. (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 12
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Bardia comes to Orual, but she can’t talk about what has happened. Bardia says that they’ll... (full context)
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Bardia falls asleep quickly but would awaken at any sign of danger. Orual can’t sleep at... (full context)
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...to only send a sign that can’t be proven—they should speak plainly. Orual returns to Bardia but does not tell him what she saw. In fact, she has never told anyone. (full context)
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...begin their journey home through wind and rain. When they stop for lunch, Orual tells Bardia everything, but leaves out her glimpse of the palace. In response, Bardia says that he... (full context)
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Orual has already guessed what Bardia put into words, but it’s still a shock to hear it. She knows that Bardia... (full context)
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...Orual strengthens her resolve to remove Psyche from the Brute. As they enter the city, Bardia says that Orual must enter the palace by a back entrance to avoid the King’s... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 13
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...man must be tricking her. The Fox’s explanation seems clearly correct to Orual, just as Bardia’s did before. (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
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...Orual want to torture Psyche’s lover to death. She suggests they could hide Psyche in Bardia’s house. When the Fox says that Bardia is too afraid of the gods to take... (full context)
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She sees clearly now. Though she has believed both Bardia and the Fox, one must be wrong. If the beliefs of Glome are correct, then... (full context)
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...child, and therefore she must obey. Orual becomes determined to act today, as long as Bardia can come with her. She’s bothered by the idea of his wife keeping him back.... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 14
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...when the hunting party is gone, she goes to the Pillar Room and sends for Bardia. She thinks the whole palace feels freer since the King is gone. (full context)
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Bardia comes, and Orual tells him she’s going back to the Mountain. He says he can’t... (full context)
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...he puts her on his horse. Their journey is entirely different from the one with Bardia. Gram hardly speaks, and it rains the whole time. It’s almost evening when they reach... (full context)
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
...about Psyche’s husband. Orual insists that the two wisest men they know, the Fox and Bardia, agree with each other and with her about the situation. Psyche is upset that Orual... (full context)
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...say he did, but she doesn’t correct Psyche. Instead, Orual says that neither he, nor Bardia, nor she herself believes that Psyche’s husband is a god or that her palace exists.... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 15
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
...to, she drinks water and realizes that she left her food with Psyche. She wishes Bardia were there with her instead of Gram. She waits by the river, hoping to see... (full context)
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Earthly vs. Divine Theme Icon
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...the world, like Psyche. She’s glad to share Psyche’s punishment. She wonders what she’ll tell Bardia and the Fox. (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 16
Love and Devouring Theme Icon
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...plan. Orual knows that if she admits that she told Psyche that the Fox and Bardia agreed about her lover, the Fox will see it as a lie. It seemed different... (full context)
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...Fox about science and politics, wanting concrete knowledge. She also continues her swordsmanship lessons with Bardia, and improves quickly. She wants to build her strength of mind and body in order... (full context)
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...When the Second Priest, Arnom, tries to set the leg, the King almost stabs him. Bardia and Orual have guards hold the King down, and he seems to fear Orual, screaming... (full context)
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Three nights later, Arnom tells Orual, Bardia, and the Fox that the King will probably die. Orual thinks she’ll be driven out... (full context)
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...that Arnom will accept because he needs the palace on his side. The Fox and Bardia congratulate her. (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 17
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...miles away with cavalry, seeking Trunia. Orual feels shocked and reveals to the Fox and Bardia that Trunia is in the palace. She brings them to the Pillar Room to get... (full context)
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Orual, Bardia, and the Fox agree that Trunia will probably rule Phars in the end, since most... (full context)
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Orual has an idea and asks Bardia how good Argan is with a sword. Bardia replies that he and Orual are both... (full context)
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...low that it would be shameful for Argan to refuse to fight. The Fox and Bardia are skeptical. Orual clarifies that she means Argan must fight a woman. She hasn’t told... (full context)
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...her. They’ll be more likely to welcome her if she has acted like a hero. Bardia agrees. The Fox fears losing her, but Orual has made her decision. She orders them... (full context)
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Orual goes to bed, knowing that Bardia will send the message. Once she’s alone, she realizes it feels like someone called “the... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 18
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...for using Orual’s love for him to try to force her not to fight Argan. Bardia enters with news that a messenger has come from Argan. They go into the Pillar... (full context)
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...the old Priest. Arnom and the Fox talk about the King’s condition, and Orual and Bardia go outside. (full context)
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Bardia is worried that Orual has never killed anyone, and it’s much harder than it seems,... (full context)
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...returns to the Pillar Room, where she frees the Fox from slavery. Immediately she hears Bardia and Arnom lamenting the loss of him, and she realizes he’s going to return to... (full context)
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...same with her. She thinks that she’s not an essential part of anyone’s life. Even Bardia cares more about his family. The Fox only liked her because he had no one... (full context)
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Later, Bardia has Orual practice her swordsmanship once more. He says that if they were to fight,... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 19
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...wants the Fox to come well-dressed, but he doesn’t like the clothes of Glome. Then Bardia wants Orual to remove her veil for the fight so that it doesn’t hinder her... (full context)
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...sword. She isn’t afraid anymore because the fight seems just like her practice bouts with Bardia. Before long, she knows he won’t kill her, but she worries she won’t kill him... (full context)
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...suddenly feels weak and different, perhaps the way women feel when they lose their virginity. Bardia and the Fox run to congratulate her, and she weeps. She has to talk to... (full context)
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Bardia tells Orual she must have a feast for the important nobles. They don’t have much... (full context)
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When they reach the palace, a slave girl whispers to Bardia, and he worriedly tells Orual that he must go home because his wife is giving... (full context)
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...men are. They got drunk and ate with no manners at all. She wonders if Bardia acts that way, which brings on loneliness for both him and Psyche. She wishes she... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 20
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...exaggerate most of what she’s done. In truth, she fights three wars alongside her soldiers. Bardia and another noble really lead the army, and whenever she finds herself in battle, she... (full context)
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The Queen’s strength comes from her excellent advisors, Bardia and the Fox, who are honest and loyal. It helps that they don’t think of... (full context)
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The Queen begins getting to know her nobles, and she meets Bardia’s wife, Ansit. She expected her to be beautiful, but, in fact, she is not. The... (full context)
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...in her absence, since it’s in such good shape. She leaves three days later, taking Bardia’s son Ilerdia and Poobi’s daughter, Alit. (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 21
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...herself that she’ll start resting more when she returns home, and that she will let Bardia rest too. They’ve done enough. The party finds a good camping place near the spring.... (full context)
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When the Queen gets home, few issues have arisen in her absence. She hears that Bardia is ill in bed, but Arnom tells her it isn’t serious. She doesn’t fear for... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 1
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The Queen is so focused on her work that she hardly thinks of Bardia, except to be angry that he isn’t around to work on affairs of state so... (full context)
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Five days later, Bardia dies. The worst part is that the Queen never told him she loved him. At... (full context)
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...The Queen begs her to be more familiar, since she also feels the loss of Bardia painfully. They sit, and the Queen says that Bardia’s death was very unexpected. Ansit tells... (full context)
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...Queen doesn’t know whether to believe Ansit. She says she’s worked just as much as Bardia did. Ansit replies that women are tougher than men, and the Queen is younger. The... (full context)
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...all the love she herself hasn’t. However, Ansit feels she only had the part of Bardia that the Queen left her. The two of them shared so much in the wars,... (full context)
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...her face. She begins to cry as she sees that the Queen has also loved Bardia and suffered from it. Suddenly they’re holding each other. Now that Bardia is dead, they... (full context)
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...Ansit’s face hardens again. The Queen says Ansit has had her revenge by calling her Bardia’s murderer. She asks whether Ansit really believes this, and Ansit replies that she knows it.... (full context)
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...loving and devouring at the same time. Angry, the Queen points out that she saved Bardia’s life in a battle. Ansit retorts that she only saved Bardia’s life for her own... (full context)
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...on her. The Queen soon realizes that Ansit’s words are true. She has always given Bardia extra work to keep him from leaving her. Furthermore, she often pushed conversation in directions... (full context)
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Once the Queen works through all of these thoughts, she has stopped longing for Bardia. Perhaps the strongest passions aren’t necessarily the most deep-seated. Mostly, her love for Bardia has... (full context)