No Country for Old Men
by Cormac McCarthy
Chigurh is the villainous antagonist of the novel. He is a cold-hearted hit man. Throughout the novel he hunts Moss and kills many innocent people mercilessly.
Llewelyn is a good ol' boy. He was a welder and fought in Vietnam. He happens upon a satchel of money in the dessert and his decision to take it sets the plot in motion.
Ed Tom Bell has been the Sherriff of Terrance County since he was 25. He also fought in WW2. Even so, he struggles with the evil nature of society throughout the novel as he tries to save Llewelyn and his wife.
War, evil and the deteriorating state of society
Throughout this novel, many wars are mentioned. It is indicated that Carson Wells and Llewelyn Moss fought in the Vietnam War while Ed Tom Bell was "a war hero" (195) in World War II. Of course, the ongoing war explored throughout No Country for Old Men is the "dope wars" (217). The war over drugs is what causes the mass homicide in the desert which insights much of the conflict in the novel. Sherriff Bell partakes in the war against drugs. He highlights the evil brought out in this war by saying: "I think if you were Satan and you were settin around tryin to think up somethin that would bring the human race to its knees what you would probably come up with is narcotics" (218). Furthermore, Bell struggles with the direction that the world is headed. He iterates that “the world is goin to hell in a handbasket” (196). To emphasize, he says: “[A] while back in San Antonio they shot and killed a judge….Add to that that there’s a peace officer along this border getting rich off of narcotics…. I don’t believe that was true even ten years ago. A crooked peace officer is just a damned abomination…. And this aint goin away” (216-217). Additionally, Bell recounts that forty years ago, “the biggest problem [students] could name was things like talkin in class and runnin in the hallways…. Forty years later. Well, here come the answers back. Rape, arson, murder. Drugs. Suicide” (197). Accordingly, Bell gathers that the evil in society “has done got way beyond anything you might of thought about even a few years ago” (217) and “’[t]here ain’t nothing to do about it’” (269). Given these points, it is clear that war, evil and the deterioration of society are key themes developed throughout No Country for Old Men.
Choice, consequence and fate
Chigurh represents the devil
Throughout this novel, it is made clear that Chigurh is not your average psychopath. Wells’ comparison of Chigurh to “’[t]he bubonic plague’” (141) as well as the description of Chigurh as “’invincible’” (140), solidifies the illusion that Chigurh transcends a human existence. Furthermore, while Chigurh reveals that he “’model[s] himself after God’” (256), his evil actions suggest that he would be better classified as satanic. As Carla Jean states, he is “’a blasphemer’” (256). Chigurh proves himself to be the great adversary of humanity as he kills nearly everyone he encounters with no remorse. As an illustration, Wells says: “’The people he meets tend to have very short futures. Nonexistent, in fact’” (150). In addition, Chigurh is referred to as “’the ultimate bad-ass’” (153) and “a true and living prophet of destruction” (4). Who better fits these titles than Satan himself? Even the way Chigurh dresses, all in black, suggests a demonic presence. Sherriff Bell remarks that "[Satan] explains a lot of things that otherwise dont have no explanation" (218); with no background information given to explain why Chigurh acts the way he does, perhaps the only explanation is the one Bell gives. In effect, Anton Chigurh becomes a symbol for the devil in this novel.