Would you tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentences?
Everybody in your ward knows you’re one of my men. Thanks to you, I find myself right over a barrel in the middle of a close election. (E. O’Connor, “The Last Hurrah”)
Harry Truman had hoped to catch the Republican over a barrel.
have somebody over a barrel = catch someone napping
Thanks for your efforts.
over a barrel, Informal . in a helpless, weak, or awkward position; unable to act. Ex: They really had us over a barrel when they foreclosed the mortgage.
Hope helped …
Thank you for your assistance.
have somebody over a barrel = (to put someone in a very difficult situation in which they have no choice about what to do )
to catch somebody napping = to catch (someone) unprepared for a particular emergency etc.
The sense of the Americanism “to have someone over a barrel” is that he person over the barrel is in the other person’s powers or at his mercy; In the days before mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and other modern methods of life saving lifeguards placed drowning victims over a barrel, which was rolled back and forth which the lifeguard tried to revive them. Victims were certainly in the lifeguard’s power and the process is probably the origin of the phrase.