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No Country- II- 2 Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. 
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Post No Country- II- 2 Sheriff Ed Tom Bell.
No Country- II- 2 Sheriff Ed Tom Bell


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Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:56 am
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Chapter V, page 125:

Carla Jean: You ain't lying to me are you?

Sheriff: No mam. I dont lie.


Ophelia's comment: Lucky country that still has a few old sheriffs who can:

a- say a thing like that and know it's the truth.

b- say a thing like that and have it rercognized as the
truth by their listeners.


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Fri Mar 21, 2008 11:47 am
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How true. Unfortunately it takes more than honesty to be a good sheriff. Ed Tom Bell is not a good sheriff.



Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:31 pm
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Why do you believe he is not a good sheriff?

He and his wife feed the inmates well. So well that it costs them money out of pocket. They even return to visit. The county had no unsolved homocides until the drug murders. He is the prototypical backwoods lawman of rural America.

Is he up to handling what happened? No, but very few small town sheriffs would be. The book mentions another sheriff staking out a stripped out commercial airline until someone points out they weren't going to return for it. They didn't need to. It was a business writeoff. The local law enforcement just could not understand the scale and money involved of what was happening.



Sun Mar 23, 2008 10:55 am
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I think Cormac McCarthy takes pains to demonstrate the weakness of Sheriff Bell. He's a good and decent man but a poor sheriff. First of all he gets into law enforcement for the wrong reasons: guilt and self-hatred. His WW2 baggage haunts him daily: his dead buddies and his perceived personal cowardice. He decides to run for sheriff to make amends, a kind of atonement. His wife Loretta (who Bell insists is never wrong) tries and fails to dissuade him (she knows him better than he knows himself).

The author quickly gives us a key insight into Bell's temperament (regarding his choice of careers.). The Sheriff tries to pull over a vehicle and is almost killed by a shotgun blast that riddles his cruiser. While the bad guys escape he sits in the car thanking his lucky stars. There is no anger, no sense of violation. He does not take pursuit, does not call for back-up. Attempted murder of a police officer is allowed to slide. He heads for the coffee shop where he admittedly allows his riddled cruiser to become a conversation piece (and there is considerable criticism of his behavior by town-folk). It does not seem to cross Bell's mind that another sheriff in another county might get his head blown off by these guys. After all, he really needed that cup of coffee.

There are many examples of a.) bad police work and b.) a personality more suited to the clergyman than the copper.

In Bell's italicized monologues he often comes off as a kind of shepherd, the people in his county being his flock.He talks of pulling everyone back into the boat. He feeds inmates out of his own pocket. Good man, bad cop.

Of course this is the author's way of stacking the deck in his war between good and evil. the good guys are handicapped by their goodness. They are outmatched.

After viewing the dead body of a murder victim in the trunk of a police car Bell proceeds to the scene of the murder of a deputy in the office of a fellow sheriff. On the way he pulls his car over in order to remove a dead bird from the middle of the road. "He wouldn't have the trucks running over it." Between the covers of this book the only thing Ed Tom Bell rescues is road-kill.



Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:03 pm
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Kenneth,

"Between the covers of this book the only thing Ed Tom Bell rescues is road-kill" was a great line.

I still think you were to harsh on the old man. Your reply did make me think a bit.

I think he was a man who did his job. No more, no less. Was he a coward? I do not think so. He did return fire at the outpost with a .30 caliber. Yes, he bailed, but he did return fire and killed some of the enemy. Most hero's never feel like hero's.

No, he didn't pursue the shooters who blew out the windshield but neither did he panic. I thought the stop for coffee was realistic and somewhat gutsy. Oh, just another day on the job kind of sang froid.

I think that the kind of response that is considered acceptable, at least in novels and movies, is the "Clint Eastwood" or Stephen Hunter style. The laconic western man who straps it on and kills everyone that crosses his path. Those type of men are somewhat scarce.

Studies of men of his generation who served on active duty in combat found that only 2 out of 10 actually fired their weapons at all. The number was higher in Nam and much higher for todays Army. I mention that because it tracks the 3 generations of men in the story and their ability to commit casual violence.

My apologies for not signing my name.


Steve



Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:22 pm
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For the record Steve, I do not think of Bell as a coward, especially with regard to his WW2 experience. I suggested that he thought of himself that way and that it played a huge role in his becoming a lawman.

When I came to the end of this book something was nagging me about the character so I went through it again reading only his italicized monologues that open each chapter. It reads like the diary of a broken man, defeated-- a failure. It's very sad.

I wonder if, for 36 years, he ever had a passion for the job.

After his talk with Carla Jane over coffee and cigarettes he comes away impressed with the young lady, says as much to his wife Loretta. He clearly thinks of her as special. You would think that her senseless killing would piss him off royally, maybe even spurn him into action. His reaction: "... I can think of no reason in the world for that no-good to of killed that girl. What did she ever do to him?" Anton Chigurh needs a good reason? And why wasn't that house staked-out Ed Tom. Moss had given his wife some of the money, not much but for all anybody knew she could have been holding a million. Chigurh had already burglarized the place once and made himself at home. He had a history of returning to scenes in a brazen and audacious manner. Sheriff Bell is forever taking his eye off the ball. Around this time he goes out of his way to learn the address of Moss's father so he can go there to console him. And of course there was an admitted cop-killer who needed to be rescued.

Again the behavior of a man of the cloth rather than of the badge.
Again McCarthy stacks the deck in his morality war.



Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:43 pm
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Kenneth - I'm impressed; you've renewed my faith in this forum in the way you've
expressed your views - and Ophelia, the way you didn't merely accept Kenneth's
view on the sheriff - you encouraged him to say 'why' . . .

I'm relieved to open these threads and not find a lot of 'symbolism' - somebody flushes
a toilet and it isn't taken to be some deliberate attempt on the writer's part to demonstrate
a keen wish to forget his childhood . . . yes, I was being funny - you may laugh.

And stcamp . . . you do a real good job of defending our sheriff . . . I hardly know what to think
now, but I know I can say 'hey! I really like this character - he's a nice guy who does his
best at his job and still gives a damn about people'.

I'd like to point out that in real life, sheriffs aren't always right there on the ball, all guts, all
knowledgeable, ready to salute at a moment's notice. In real life, people are people and
that's who guys like this sheriff are - people.

'Nough compliments for now. Just let me say, that I'm really glad I dug into this book tonight,
and even though there's a terribly good movie playing as I write (Patch of Blue - Sidney Portier),
I'm really glad I took the time to read these threads.

On to Chapter III's thread . . .



Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:14 pm
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Post Re: No Country- II- 2 Sheriff Ed Tom Bell.
cormac lost me when moss doesn't kill chirguh



Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:58 am


Post Re: No Country- II- 2 Sheriff Ed Tom Bell.
Guys, I'm writing an essay on this book and I'm sooo thankful for this rewiev on Bell, especially on Kenneth's! Thanks a lot



Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:40 pm
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