No Country For Old Men Essay

2028 words - 9 pages

Filled with a plethora of themes and convictions, Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men excels in its endeavor to maintain the reader’s mind racing from cover to cover. The setting is the Texas-Mexico boarder; the story embodying a modernized western-themed Greek tragedy filled with drug runners and automatic weapons. Llewelyn Moss, a Vietnam veteran, finds himself on the run from forces that seem to be an instrument of karmic consequence. While on the run, Llewelyn is given the opportunity to end the madness that has arisen so immediately in his life. But he doesn’t. Instead he braves on, defying his own advice, and persistent on luck, only leaving him a misfortunate ending. To ...view middle of the document...

Bodies lying across the floor, cars shot up, the brass casings scattered like sand across the desert floor; this is what Llewelyn sees when peering over the ridge with his twelve power German binoculars. Diverging from his (moral) path to put the animal out of its misery, Llewelyn shifts towards the site and begins to diagnose what clearly is the reminiscence of a shootout. While making sense of the scene, Llewelyn stumbles across a dying man begging him for water. Because Llewelyn doesn’t have any water with him (strange as he has been out in the desert all day hunting), he just leaves him there as he goes on to discover a dead man safeguarding a briefcase filled with $2 million dollars in cash.
Almost as if the dead body holding onto that case would be a foreshadow for what is to come for Llewelyn if he takes the money, he grabs it, returning home without contacting the police or even endeavoring to save the dying man. Later his guilt will reconcile while sleeping, bringing him back to the scene with the water only to find more trouble ahead as he begins on his fateful run. Though just a short segment in the story, these scenes deliver a considerable amount of evidence to insinuate Llewelyn is a man flexible of principle. As he continues to be morally tested evading the inexplicable force that pursues him, the reader gains a sense that Llewelyn will do what ever it takes to survive and escape the consequences of his actions.
So what is the unstoppable force that haunts all the characters in the novel? Anton Chigurh, the most amoral character in the story, represents a roll much like the grim reaper as he kills across the Texan landscape. While Anton may just be to Llewelyn, “the ultimate bad-ass,” (153) he embodies a very dark mindset that threatens both the characters throughout the novel and what lies ahead for society. Bound by no morals or jurisdiction, he considers himself to be the instrument of karmic consequence where his role is to make sure others will reap what they sow. For example, when Chigurh visits Carla Jean at the end of the novel to repay the promise he made to her husband. He tells her, based on the shape of her life’s path leading to this very moment, “When I came into your life your life was over. It had a beginning, middle, and an end. This is the end.” (260) Chigurh could have just walked away from the promise he had made in the past to Llewlyn, promising to kill his wife, but instead he asserts that it is his duty to satisfy it. To not kill her, he would be “second saying the world” (260) and making himself “vulnerable”, as it is the only way he can live. Now with an understanding of the type of person who has been hunting Llewelyn throughout the story and haunting the society, the audience can revisit the moment when the path could have been altered should Llewelyn have made an amoral decision.
After being chased across town by Chigurh, Llewelyn begins to question how Chigurh is able...

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