The book ̈No Country for Old Men ̈ by Cormac McCarthy isn't the average western - the good guy doesn't come out on top or get to live, the bad guy gets escapes and in the end there is no big gunslinging skirmish, but instead a clam slow monologue by the least involved of the three main characters. McCarthy uses Sheriff Tom Bell ́s dreams to shed light on the imbalance of chaos and order that our world tends not to know.
After looking so much on protagonist Llewelyn Moss escaping the assassin Anton Chigurh, does it really make all that much sense to end on a lesser character ́s seemingly irrelevant dreams? Yes, because the final monologue lends the reader a peephole into the novel ́s deeper thematic meaning. We realise Tom Bell is of the ̈old men ̈ in the title of the book, and we are allowed to peer into why there is no country for them anymore. The Sheriff grapples to recognise the real world of randomness and chaos, so he is lost. McCarthy employs the dreams to show the veteran sheriff grieving the loss of the lawful and decent world he believes in, a world that probably had not even existed.
The Book seems both opaque and pessimistic. - the story as it follows Moss tells us that our past sins catch up to us. Everyone who was involved with the money ends up dead, wounded or empty. Yet, at the same time, the novel rejects justice when Chigurh escapes in the end- as if decided by one of his own wildly random coin tosses. There is a terrifying interplay between what is inevitable and the arbitrary, where, we must fear both total lack of moral order and moral punishment, yet, there can be no trust in that either will occur.
In the dreams that Bell has he tells the reader ̈both of the dreams got my father in ́em. sorta surreal because now im older than he ever was, by about twenty years.̈ ̈Bell is the embodiment of a role displaced from an average western novel. The simple good guy bad guy dualities and old ideas of law enforcement no longer apply in this world. Now it is too wild and dangerous and The Sheriff now retires as cause of it, crushed by the world and the uncertainty it possesses. In Bells first dream he has misplaced some money, which represents Bells loss of the world which bewilders him. He says He ¨feels overmatched¨. His loss of the money also is representative of his impotence to see the world plainly, he is out of touch and not just by cause of this world moving forward but also for the reason that it never even was what had felt it was. We are brought back to what he said in the beginning of the book ¨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. ¨
The second dream he has is about riding on a horse through the mountains at night he says ̈My father rode past me not saying nothing, and he was carrying fire in a horn, the way people used to.̈ the fire in a horn is not meant to provide light like a torch would, but as an old way of getting a fire started by carrying hot embers from one place to the next. Its holding the guarantee of fire ahead. The path that Bell is living is symbolized by the dark mountain pass full of coldness and moral uncertainty. but by carrying forward this fire by continuing his father ́s essence and somehow this will allow a restoration of the more simpler good that his father symbolizes. Yet it seems that his dream isn't a prognostication but only a hope. he desires the assurance that in the end, there will be warmth and light, but after all he is wishing for something that cannot ever come true and he knows it. The last five words of the book seem to confirm this,̈ And then I woke up ̈.
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