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No Country- III- The plot.
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Author:  Ophelia [ Wed Mar 19, 2008 8:57 am ]
Post subject:  No Country- III- The plot.

No Country- III- The plot.

"The intricate plot, set in rural Texas, involves three characters chasing after Llewelyn Moss , a lovable salt-of-the-earth type who stumbles upon $2 million and a mess of dead bodies in the wake of a blown drug deal in the desert.

There's the narrator, Ed Tom Bell , a melancholy sheriff nearing retirement who investigates the murders.
There's Chigurh, an associate of the drug dealers who's bent on recovering the money and totally unconcerned with how many innocent people he wipes out in the process. "

Chicago Reader

Author:  JohnShadeFan [ Sat Apr 05, 2008 12:04 pm ]
Post subject: 

If I were to reduce the plot down to a sentence, it would be this: "Man finds money, keeps it, and trouble ensues."

This sort of reminds mt of the book (and subsequent movie) "A Simple Plan," only there, three found the money. It also reminds me of a movie (also starring Billy Bob) where a group of freinds find a bunch of marijuana. Home Grown, it might've been called.

I have a feeling that McCarthy used a somewhat generic plot so that he could focus on Bell. To me, most of the meaning of the book all comes from Bell's interior monolgues.

Author:  Kenneth [ Sat Apr 05, 2008 10:56 pm ]
Post subject: 

Yes John. Your post resonates with me because in the back of my mind I have always been thinking "A Simple Plan." It's a pretty generic scenario: decent guy finds a fortune and becomes corrupted. Remember Steinbeck's "The Pearl?" A simple pearl-diver finds the fortune of a lifetime and ultimately loses everything.

I like your comments, John, regarding Bell's interior monologues. I agree that they are very important. I don't think there's much doubt that Bell's diary lays out a central theme: an erosion of morality. It's been discussed here quite a bit. Guns in schools. Ophelia spoke of knives in French schools.

I see a problem with Bell's simplistic view: "Any time you quit hearin sir and mam the end is pretty much in sight.... that leaves people settin around out in the desert dead in their vehicles..." For me this betrays a rocking-chair mentality when what is needed is a two-fisted cop. Ed Tom Bell is a positive character but he is a first class whiner, exactly what we don't need with Anton Chigurh on the loose.

I see Cormac McCarthy here as a top-shelf illusionist. He sets us up with Bell's heartfelt monologues and proceeds to lead us along with the good Sheriff's actions. We pull for this guy. We like him and long for him to succeed. But he is irrelevant. He gets close to the action only within a context of humiliation. He doesn't come remotely close to a bust-- he has no clue. He's front and center in the author's telling of the story but remains a footnote in the grand scheme of things. When Carson Wells confronts Moss in the Mexican hospital he is asked what he thinks of Bell. Wells replies that he doesn't think of him at all. "He's a redneck sheriff in a hick town in a hick county. In a hick state."

Unfortunately Wells is correct. McCarthy stacks the deck and then deals from the bottom. He gives us a moral authority (Bell) who is not a player in the game and who does not have what it takes to play the game. Yet we are tricked into following him around as if he matters. He doesn't.

Author:  JohnShadeFan [ Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:30 pm ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  Ophelia [ Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:02 pm ]
Post subject: 

John,

I'll take your post to "the themes" and carry on there.

Author:  shawnrohrbach [ Mon Jul 21, 2008 3:29 pm ]
Post subject: 

Kenneth wrote:
Yes John. Your post resonates with me because in the back of my mind I have always been thinking "A Simple Plan." It's a pretty generic scenario: decent guy finds a fortune and becomes corrupted. Remember Steinbeck's "The Pearl?" A simple pearl-diver finds the fortune of a lifetime and ultimately loses everything.

I like your comments, John, regarding Bell's interior monologues. I agree that they are very important. I don't think there's much doubt that Bell's diary lays out a central theme: an erosion of morality. It's been discussed here quite a bit. Guns in schools. Ophelia spoke of knives in French schools.

I see a problem with Bell's simplistic view: "Any time you quit hearin sir and mam the end is pretty much in sight.... that leaves people settin around out in the desert dead in their vehicles..." For me this betrays a rocking-chair mentality when what is needed is a two-fisted cop. Ed Tom Bell is a positive character but he is a first class whiner, exactly what we don't need with Anton Chigurh on the loose.

I see Cormac McCarthy here as a top-shelf illusionist. He sets us up with Bell's heartfelt monologues and proceeds to lead us along with the good Sheriff's actions. We pull for this guy. We like him and long for him to succeed. But he is irrelevant. He gets close to the action only within a context of humiliation. He doesn't come remotely close to a bust-- he has no clue. He's front and center in the author's telling of the story but remains a footnote in the grand scheme of things. When Carson Wells confronts Moss in the Mexican hospital he is asked what he thinks of Bell. Wells replies that he doesn't think of him at all. "He's a redneck sheriff in a hick town in a hick county. In a hick state."

Unfortunately Wells is correct. McCarthy stacks the deck and then deals from the bottom. He gives us a moral authority (Bell) who is not a player in the game and who does not have what it takes to play the game. Yet we are tricked into following him around as if he matters. He doesn't.


The problem with a "two fisted cop" here in San Diego and Tijuana is they end up very dead. The plot is violence, that's it and when you turn on the local San Diego or Tijuana (and mexicalii) news it's one dead body after another, and they are 99% associated with the drug trafficking on the US-Mexico border. McCarthy did this one right. He's lived in the Southwest near the border long enough to see it first hand and I think did a terrrific job of commenting on something we usually want to cover up; this country's hypocritcal embrace of drugs while we ignore the violent system that supplies them. The deathly violence of the drug supply system, fraught with corrupt cops and absolutely ruthless suppliers is very real. As for Bell not being a player, he's very much like the most effective cops in the area of San Diego/Tijuana. The macho gun slingers get gunned down first while the wise old birds (Bell) seemingly stand back and do nothing, but who are continuously studying the enemy to find the weak spots. Yes, perhaps Mccarthy could have shown some results of this policing style, but Bell is true to form. When the locals make a bust, they may be few and far between, but they are massive in scale. It took the local police and the DEA 10 months to finally break a drug ring on the SDSU campus last school year; 91 arrests and counting and they were as quiet as church mice in the process. I didn't care much for the "..Horses" novels he wrote, but this one he got right.

Author:  WildCityWoman [ Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: No Country- III- The plot.

Ophelia wrote:
No Country- III- The plot.

"The intricate plot, set in rural Texas, involves three characters chasing after Llewelyn Moss , a lovable salt-of-the-earth type who stumbles upon $2 million and a mess of dead bodies in the wake of a blown drug deal in the desert.

There's the narrator, Ed Tom Bell , a melancholy sheriff nearing retirement who investigates the murders.
There's Chigurh, an associate of the drug dealers who's bent on recovering the money and totally unconcerned with how many innocent people he wipes out in the process. "

Chicago Reader


I agree with 'Chicago Reader', Ophelia . . . especially about Chigurh - and I'm supposin' this is pronounced 'Chigger' - I'll have to wait till we rent the movie, I guess.

Yes - the innocent people he wipes out - figures anybody Mexican doesn't matter it seems - just barrels on into that bathroom in the motel room and starts firing.

Author:  WildCityWoman [ Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:26 pm ]
Post subject: 

Well, JohnShadeFan, we fortunately don't have this kind of thing happening as
an everyday thing in our lives here in the western world.

This kind of bloodbath, is something you see in Bonnie & Clyde, In Cold Blood,
Al Capone yarns, etc.

Also a lot of the shooting that was done was 'gang related' . . . just like a lot of
the murders that are happening here in Toronto - they're 'gang' stuff - they're
shootin' each other dead.

And who are 'they'? Yeah, you can ask - kids that are barely out of diapers!

If we let the media lead us to draw our conclusions, we'll be under the impression
that live in a very dangerous, violent environment and we've got to watch out
for evil on every street corner.

Fortunately, there's a thousand times 'good' in our lives here in the city, for
every incident of evil.

Guess I'll see y'all in 'themes'.

Carly

Author:  shawnrohrbach [ Mon Jul 21, 2008 8:53 pm ]
Post subject: 

WildCityWoman wrote:
Well, JohnShadeFan, we fortunately don't have this kind of thing happening as
an everyday thing in our lives here in the western world.

This kind of bloodbath, is something you see in Bonnie & Clyde, In Cold Blood,
Al Capone yarns, etc.

Also a lot of the shooting that was done was 'gang related' . . . just like a lot of
the murders that are happening here in Toronto - they're 'gang' stuff - they're
shootin' each other dead.

The problem is killing the police chief of Tijuana was routine. The killing of a US Immigrations officer was routine. The shooting of a Mexican federal agent was routine. McCarthy got this one right; this murderous rampage these drug cartels are on is not to be ignored. Yes it was a violent book and the movie only focused on the violence; and sometimes on the border, in order to get the hard drugs to market, that's all there is. Deathly violence

And who are 'they'? Yeah, you can ask - kids that are barely out of diapers!

If we let the media lead us to draw our conclusions, we'll be under the impression
that live in a very dangerous, violent environment and we've got to watch out
for evil on every street corner.

Fortunately, there's a thousand times 'good' in our lives here in the city, for
every incident of evil.

Guess I'll see y'all in 'themes'.

Carly

Author:  Kenneth [ Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:28 pm ]
Post subject: 

shawnrohrbach-- Since I don't live near the border as you do I respect your opinions regarding the drug trade and border problems in the San Diego area. But we're discussing a specific work of fiction here. We have to take the author's work as it stands. Sheriff Bell is Sheriff Bell. He's not a wise old bird. He's over the hill, part of the problem. You sayyes perhaps McCarthy could have shown some results of his policing style.... but Bell is true to form. You're confusing real life with literature. McCarthy doesn't have Bell fit the mold you like because he doesn't choose to in his work. The title, let's not forget, is No Country for Old Men. It comes from a poem by William Butler Yeats called Sailing to Byzantium which opens with "That is no country for old men." It's a poem of aging, death, rebirth.

A key line in the poem is:

An aged man is but a paltry thing
a tattered coat upon a stick

In other words a "scarecrow" like poor Ed Bell. The work of the author is there. We can't wish it away.

Author:  WildCityWoman [ Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:37 am ]
Post subject: 

The thing about Sheriff Bell . . . actually, there are a lot of people like him - in everyday life, Bell wouldn't be that interesting a person - he'd be the kind of man that talks about the same things every day, sits in the same seat when he enters a public place . . . he's a creature of habit . . . he's a likable guy, but you could only take so much of him.

It takes a good author like Cormac to make this guy interesting . . . Moss, now there's a piece of work - he's basically a nice fella', but he's got his needs, his desires, his love of life itself. Same with his woman - they've got a particular language they share that renews your faith in love all over again.

Chigurgh - oh, don't kid yourself - there are a lot of people (and I'm not saying it's just men) like him. Unfortunately, guys like him are on the breed - he's a nasty individual who's on a mission.

CM lacks nothing in bringing this guy across to me.

But I'm supposed to be talking about plot . . . sorry.

I'm not through with the book yet, but I can see this writer doesn't waste words on small itshay . . . he starts his story with Moss finding the bodies and the money, gives the reader reason to turn the page.

When he moves on from one scene to another, he might just take you into somebody's 'mind' rather than into the next 'scene' . . .you can tell he's a playwright as well as a novelist . . . when he takes the reader into somebody's 'mind' it's for a reason - he uses the time spent with the character's 'thoughts' to continue telling the story.

Forgive me if I'm blathered on too much about characters here.

Author:  WildCityWoman [ Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:38 am ]
Post subject: 

The thing about Sheriff Bell . . . actually, there are a lot of people like him - in everyday life, Bell wouldn't be that interesting a person - he'd be the kind of man that talks about the same things every day, sits in the same seat when he enters a public place . . . he's a creature of habit . . . he's a likable guy, but you could only take so much of him.

It takes a good author like Cormac to make this guy interesting . . . Moss, now there's a piece of work - he's basically a nice fella', but he's got his needs, his desires, his love of life itself. Same with his woman - they've got a particular language they share that renews your faith in love all over again.

Chigurgh - oh, don't kid yourself - there are a lot of people (and I'm not saying it's just men) like him. Unfortunately, guys like him are on the breed - he's a nasty individual who's on a mission.

CM lacks nothing in bringing this guy across to me.

But I'm supposed to be talking about plot . . . sorry.

I'm not through with the book yet, but I can see this writer doesn't waste words on small itshay . . . he starts his story with Moss finding the bodies and the money, gives the reader reason to turn the page.

When he moves on from one scene to another, he might just take you into somebody's 'mind' rather than into the next 'scene' . . .you can tell he's a playwright as well as a novelist . . . when he takes the reader into somebody's 'mind' it's for a reason - he uses the time spent with the character's 'thoughts' to continue telling the story.

Forgive me if I've blathered on too much about characters here.

Author:  WildCityWoman [ Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:41 am ]
Post subject: 

There's something I'm noticing - and I guess this has to do with 'plot' . . . is this writer hung up on the act of lying down on a bed with a gun by his side?

Seems every few pages somebody lies down on a bed with a gun by his side.

Is one of these weapon going to 'go off', like the proverbial 'gun on the mantelpiece'?

I'll probably know by tomorrow - should be through with the read by then.

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