I think most readers become increasingly aggravated with Bartleby as the story progresses.
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I think he is secretly in love with bartleby! :0
My thoughts about the narrator's acquiescence to Bartlelby was, "Why don't you just tell him what to do?" Bartleby never refused any order from his employer; he merely stated his preferences. This may seem a minor idiosyncrasy to most people, but after 35 years in supervision, I recognize the nuances of language used by those who wish to have their way without being insubordinate.
This may not have been what Melville was thinking, but then he did spend some time as a seaman, and probably was accustomed to taking orders.
The narrator wasn't a wuss. He was conflicted within himself about doing what was right for a fellow human.
Doug, I disagree.
You could be right. Who knows what was in Melville's mind? I remember a quote to the effect that an author is due credit for whatever meaning one finds in his or her work.