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No Country For Old Men

September 14, 2015

NCFOMAn ageing Sheriff tries to make sense of a rapidly changing world when a drugs deal goes wrong and spirals into increasing violence.

Violence/morality — There are outbreaks of violence in our communities, e.g. gang and youth violence. There is a sense that as the more ‘normal’ violence becomes we run the risk of becoming desensitised to it. When we start lowering the value of a human life, it becomes easier and easier to justify violence – eventually a human life becomes less valuable than a mobile phone or petty cash we want to steal from someone.

Ageing and rapid change — Most people grow up hearing their grandparents saying that things were very different in their youth. As we grow older, we find ourselves saying the very same thing. Sheriff Bell is searching for a sense of meaning by which to understand the fast changing world he finds himself a part of. In conversation with his colleague in El Paso, Sheriff Giddens asks ‘What’s it mean? What’s it leading to? It’s the dismal tide’ and they agree that it’s not the one thing, but a whole raft of changes.

Revenge — it would be easy to say that a lot of what happens in this story is about revenge. Bell’s uncle Ellis has had a lot of time to reflect on his life and in conversation with Bell says ‘… all the time you spend trying to take back what’s been took from you, more is going out the door. After a while you just have to try and get a tourniquet on it.’

[first lines] Ed Tom Bell: I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; him up in Plano and me out here. I think he’s pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough’d never carried one; that’s the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn’t wear one up in Comanche County. I always liked to hear about the oldtimers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can’t help but compare yourself against the oldtimers. Can’t help but wonder how they would have operated these times. There was this boy I sent to the ‘lectric chair at Huntsville Hill here a while back. My arrest and my testimony. He killt a fourteen-year-old girl. Papers said it was a crime of passion but he told me there wasn’t any passion to it. Told me that he’d been planning to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he’d do it again. Said he knew he was going to hell. “Be there in about fifteen minutes”. I don’t know what to make of that. I sure don’t. The crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure. It’s not that I’m afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say, “O.K., I’ll be part of this world.”
 

 

[last lines] Loretta Bell: How’d you sleep?
Ed Tom Bell: I don’t know. Had dreams.
Loretta Bell: Well you got time for ’em now. Anythin’ interesting?
Ed Tom Bell: They always is to the party concerned.
Loretta Bell: Ed Tom, I’ll be polite.
Ed Tom Bell: Alright then. Two of ’em. Both had my father in ’em . It’s peculiar. I’m older now then he ever was by twenty years. So in a sense he’s the younger man. Anyway, first one I don’t remember too well but it was about meeting him in town somewhere, he’s gonna give me some money. I think I lost it. The second one, it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin’ through the mountains of a night. Goin’ through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin’. Never said nothin’ goin’ by. He just rode on past… and he had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin’ fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. ‘Bout the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin’ on ahead and he was fixin’ to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. And then I woke up…
 

 

Man who hires Wells: [about Chigurh] Just how dangerous is he?
Carson Wells: Compared to what? The bubonic plague?
 

Man who hires Wells: Did I say you could sit?
Carson Wells: No, but you strike me as a man who wouldn’t want to waste his chair.
 

 

 

Carla Jean Moss: I got a bad feeling, Llewelyn.
Llewelyn Moss: Well I got a good feeling, so that should even out.
 

Carson Wells: Call me when you’ve had enough. I can even let you keep a little of the money.
Llewelyn Moss: If I was cuttin’ deals, why wouldn’t I go deal with this guy Chigurh?
Carson Wells: No no. No. You don’t understand. You can’t make a deal with him. Even if you gave him the money he’d still kill you. He’s a peculiar man. You could even say that he has principles. Principles that transcend money or drugs or anything like that. He’s not like you. He’s not even like me.
Llewelyn Moss: He don’t talk as much as you, I give him points for that.
 

 

Ed Tom Bell: [talking to Ellis] I always figured when I got older, God would sorta come inta my life somehow. And he didn’t. I don’t blame him. If I was him I would have the same opinion of me that he does.
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