Bitter about the evolution of the corruption of society, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell plays the official hero clinging to old traditions and reminiscing about the old days in No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. Delusions of a peaceful utopia during the time his grandpa Jack was a sheriff has left Bell looking at the world through hopeless eyes; a world on its knees with only one explanation for its demise: Satan. Not necessarily a religious man, Sheriff Bell, when asked if he believes in Satan, remarks: “He explains a lot of things that otherwise don’t have no explanation. Or not to me they don’t” (218). Throughout No County for Old Men, Sheriff Bell is determined to save Llewellyn Moss in order to prove that justice can be served in a world now drenched in decay. Throughout the book and the film adaptation, the audience can see Sheriff Bell, a tormented old man, sink deeper into his bitterness and his hope sizzle away in the Texas heat.
The book, No Country for Old Men, switches from first person to third person perspective; the first person perspective coming only from Sheriff Bell. It is with these first person accounts that the reader understands why Bell is saddened by the new world around him. He tells of a story he read in the newspaper about teachers answering a survey of what the biggest problems were with teaching in schools; the biggest problems these teachers could name were: “talking in class and running in hallways. Chewing gum. Copying homework.” The story in the paper then states that forty years later the survey was given to teachers and the biggest problems were: “Rape, arson, murder. Drugs. Suicide.” Bell is horrified by this story in the paper and is in disbelief when people tell him he is just “getting old” when he says the world is “going to hell.” His defense against those saying his morbid outlook on life is just a symptom of getting old is seen when he says: “But my feeling about that is that anybody that can’t tell the difference between raping and murdering people and chewing gum has got a whole lot bigger of a problem than what I’ve got” (196). In regards to the crimes around him, Bell is aware of something more sinister on the horizon when he begins to describe a new kind of criminal:
I used to say they were the same ones we’ve always had to deal with. Same ones my granddaddy had to deal with. Back when they was rustling cattle. Now they’re running dope. But I don’t know as that’s true no more. I aint sure we’ve seen these people before. Their kind. I don’t know what do with em even. If you killed em all they’d have to build a annex on to hell. (79)
Bell witnesses the progression of evil around his own county and the way things have taken a turn for the worse when he says: “This county has not had a unsolved homicide in forty-one years. Now we got nine of em in one week” (216).
Bell is a little apprehensive at first to state that the world he is inhabiting has slipped from the hands of those...