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No Country- VIII- Themes. 
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Post No Country- VIII- Themes.
VIII- Themes.

One reviewer wrote that No Country for Old Men is a reverie for the loss of the dream of security, for the death of a benevolent, active Christian God.

1- Good versus evil.





2- Fate: Do things simply happen to Llewellyn (fate), or does he play a part in what happens to him?


Does McCarthy have a message or a view of life which concerns fate?


3- Is there a moral message in the novel?

If so, what is it and how is it conveyed?


4- Is this a nihilistic novel?

Quote:
Nihilism (from the Latin nihil, nothing) is a philosophical position which argues that Being, especially past and current human existence, is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. Nihilists generally assert some or all of the following:

* there is no reasonable proof of the existence of a higher ruler or creator,
* a "true morality" does not exist, and
* objective secular ethics are impossible; therefore, life has, in a sense, no truth, and no action is objectively preferable to any other.

The term nihilism is sometimes used synonymously with anomie to denote a general mood of despair at the pointlessness of existence.


Wikipedia.



5- Chapter V, p 134, in Eagle Pass:

" There's days I'm in favour of givin the whole damn place back to em, the sheriff said.
I hear you, said Bell.
Dead bodies in the street. Citizens' business all shot up. People's cars."

Any comments?


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Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:50 am
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John wrote:

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Agree 100% with your assessment of Bell's "philosophy." However, don't we all look for answers to explain away evil and casual violence? Bell's front-porch philosophy is less convincing than, say, a professional research report on "the effects of violence in the media," but aren't most (all?) of the theories finally unsatisfactory? This book frightened me in many ways, and this might be the core reason: there's not much that can fully account for the moral erosion in this country.


(emphasis mine).

So yes, we have a moral message.

And what you write brings me back to something I've been musing about: whether the book works depends on whether you feel frightened by the situation it presents. Perhaps it depends on whether you feel afraid of the unstoppable MrChigurh.

So, did you feel frightened?
Are you afraid of Chigurh?


This didn't really work for me, and I wondered why.
I think I don't really believe in Chigurh, in a man who could be the ultimate evil working on his own.

I'm afraid of more "ordinary" things. My idea of something terrifying is those branches of organized crime that deal in human trafficking, for example taking immigrants from China to the UK, or selling Eastern European women into prostitution. That means a whole chain of criminals, many of them just doing the basic dirty jobs, as minders, truck drivers, etc...
It's not new business, but after slavery it had mostly stopped for a while.


Perhaps I can't get worried about Chigurh because he is so single-minded or one-sided. There must be people like him but for some reason they're not what I would worry most about.

I agree with you about what I think MCCarthy wanted to convey, but the problem is whether this message does come accross.


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Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:21 pm
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"I think I don't really believe in Chigurh, in a man who could be the ultimate evil working on his own".

Ophelia, I think McCarthy wants to create a situation where Chigurh may and may not be a man. We may be up against something supernatural. Sheriff Bell heads for the hills rather than deal with him (rather than have his soul stolen!). The novel doesn't work if Chigurh is just a criminal who doesn't get captured.

The morality war is heavy-handed. The evil guys are smart, the nice guys are stupid. The chief moral agent (Bell) is deliberately relegated to the very outskirts of the plot.

However, please believe in a man who could be the ultimate evil working on his own-- in the USA we've had too many (when Bundy fried I did not cry and I dislike the death penalty).............. Ken




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Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:23 pm
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However, please believe in a man who could be the ultimate evil working on his own-- in the USA we've had too many (when Bundy fried I did not cry and I dislike the death penalty)..


Of course I do believe in them.
In Belgium we had the Dutrou tria a few years ago, and now in France the trial. Those men were monsters who kidnapped, raped, tortured their victims bfore killing them.

But the police are not all at retirement age, with one man and one car for a whole county, and those people do get caught eventually because at some stage they make mistakes. I don't believe in a Chigurh that does not, ever, make mistakes. The fact that he feels all powerful and that Bell is over-matched doesn't mean Chigurh is invincible.

Quote:
I think McCarthy wants to create a situation where Chigurh may and may not be a man. We may be up against something supernatural

(emphasis mine).

Now this is interesting. I hope other readers will want to react to this.
And perhaps you can elaborate Kenneth?


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Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:37 am
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Quote:
I don't believe in a Chigurh that does not, ever, make mistakes


I hope I did the "quote" thing right Ophelia. For the record, and I've mentioned this more than once in other threads, Chigurh makes mistakes all over the place. It's possible that I've read too many crime novels, particularly "police procedurals" in which the cops vs. criminal chess game becomes the very fabric of the book. This book has been called a "crime/thriller" by some critics and I don't agree with that. As a straight-ahead crime-thriller this plot has more holes than the Eagle Hotel.

You made reference to an elderly sheriff in a single patrol car covering a vast Texas county. True. With a dozen homicides, a border violation, illegal weapons, copious heroin and 2 million bucks (in 1980) it is absurd to think Ed Tom Bell would be point man in this investigation. Where are the Feds: FBI, DEA, ATF? Where are the State Police, the Texas Rangers? A legitimate genre novel (procedural) would never get away with this blatant implausibility. Hence it's not a crime-thriller. It's a mainstream good vs. evil novel. Police procedural plausibility must take a back seat (and I along with it) to the author's higher purpose: his battle between God and the Devil.



Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:15 pm
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Quote:
I think McCarthy wants to create a situation where Chigurh may and may not be a man. We may be up against something supernatural

Now this is interesting. I hope other readers will want to react to this.
And perhaps you can elaborate Kenneth?
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I no longer have a copy of the book at my disposal, only a few scribbled notes. But from the opening chapter the spectre of an other-worldy being is ever-present. Sheriff Bell's opening monologue makes reference to a killer who was so strange and new to him that "maybe he was some new kind" [of person]. A few lines later: "But he wasn't nothin compared to what was comin down the pike."

You've got a 36 year veteran Texas sheriff, a WW2 vet (the Greatest Generation) who flat-out quits in the middle of the biggest crime investigation of his life. His exit lines include "prophet of destruction." Immediately, with the use of the word "prophet" the reader is put on notice that a higher, spiritual being (not the good kind) may be at work.

Near the end of the book Bell says "he's a ghost and he's out there." Another quote: "...if he is a man."

This is a pretty tough guy, has seen a lot, is dug in with his home, his wife, an anchor in the community. Yet suddenly he can't get out of town fast enough. It's fear of the Devil. A man like this doesn't cut and run from another human-- he's convinced that his very soul is about to be snatched and devoured.

But this is from the Ed Tom Bell Monologue/Diary. The actual third-person narration of the book portrays Chigurh, I think, as an obsessed mass-murderer who is very human.

I need some help here because I am always guilty of ignoring the importance of style and how it becomes part of the fabric of the story. And since I don't have a copy of the book at hand maybe someone could find examples where the physical atmosphere around Chigurh would suggest a supernatural presence.



Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:29 pm
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ELDERLY??!!

Bell was only about 60 or so, wasn't he? I didn't think of him as being elderly.

To my way of thinking, elderly is like over 90!



Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:11 am
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