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NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Cormac McCarthy 2005 Adventure, Thriller. Texas and Mexico, various small towns, motels, the desert, etc. 1980s. Setting. Protagonist The traditional forces of “good”—morality, action with reason, and the law.

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no country for old men


Cormac McCarthy


Adventure, Thriller



    • The traditional forces of “good”—morality, action with reason, and the law.
    • Embodied by Sheriff Bell: An experienced, retirement-age sheriff in a small county in Texas who attempts to lace up his boots one last time to muster up the strength to face his greatest challenge yet
  • Antagonist
    • The uprooting forces of a new wave of cutthroat crime-committers, without morality or motive—crime for crime’s sake.
    • Embodied by Anton Chigurh: A heartless hit man who kills for sport, calculating and immoral. Sees himself as an instrument of fate or death rather than a human being

Other characters:

    • Llewelyn Moss: A former soldier living a quiet life in the Texan wilderness who gets in over his head in a world of crime and senseless violence. The everyman of the story.
    • Carson Wells: A rival hit man who seems more human than Chigurh, a more honorable, albeit ruthless and deadly, man
    • Texan landscape: Treated as a character itself; where the evil spawns from. Characterized as a rough, unloving place that is just as much a force on the story and its inhabitants as a person. Part of Fate’s hand.
style structure

Little, often incorrect grammar:

    • Run-on sentences, misspelling of words, and lack of commas, quotation marks, apostrophes, and capitalization
  • Use of Spanish language
  • Tone: conversational
  • Mode: informal
  • Diction:
    • Mostly straightforward phrasing
    • Use of extinct words
  • Syntax: simple
  • Structure: interview confessions to third person
Style & Structure
major conflicts

Morality vs. Immorality–take the money? Fight? Surrender?

  • Self preservation vs. Selfishness—what constitutes horrible actions? How to retain humanity?
  • Evil vs. good—on its most basic level
  • Humanity vs. inhumanity—the struggle between intrinsically evil and good people, and the forces that effect the morality
  • Money vs. Humanity—can the power of money be given to man without changing him for the worse?
Major Conflicts
key scenes

p. 17-18: Moss finds the money

  • p. 55-58: Chigurh’s coin toss
  • p. 148-157: Wells visits Moss in the hospital
  • p. 240-241: Moss’s body confirmed
  • p. 254-260: Chigurh kills Carla Jean
  • p. 303-305: Bell reflects
Key Scenes
key quotations

“You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I dont know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who’s layin there?” – Moss, page 227

  • “Every step you take is forever. You cant make it go away. None of it.” – Moss, page 227
  • “Things happen to you they happen. They dont ask first. They dont require your permission.” – Moss
  • “How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?” – Sheriff Bell
  • “They dont have no respect for the law? That aint half of it. They dont even think about the law. It dontseem to even concern em.” – Sheriff Bell, page 216
  • “They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. But there is another view of the world out there and other eyes to see it…” – Sheriff Bell, page 4
Key Quotations
themes of interest

Old vs. New

  • Good vs. Evil
  • Effects of Money—Can it bring happiness?
  • Fate
  • Morality
  • Changing society- the fate of our culture
  • What is evil?
  • Value of a life
Themes of Interest
theme statement

When a 1980s Texas county sheriff comes in conflict with a ruthless killer of a new age characterized by pure malice emerging in his unprepared, quaint society, the results may be a commentary on the hopeless nature of modern humanity. Driven by greed, self interest, and apathy, the modern man will succumb to the darkest part of himself willingly, and even the best of humanity will lose faith and allow for the defeat of society into organized chaos.

Theme Statement
the end


Maddy Starr, Andrew Perricone, KateriSloat, and Kalev Rudolph