Essay on No Country For Old Men : Morality, Principle, And Fate

Essay on No Country For Old Men : Morality, Principle, And Fate

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Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men:
Morality, Principle, and Fate in Literature
Cormac McCarthy’s critically acclaimed 2005 novel No Country for Old Men, centers around three major characters (Llewellyn Moss, Anton Chigurh, and Ed Tom Bell) whose lives intertwine after a chain reaction occurs related to a drug deal gone bad near the Mexican-American border in 1980. While hunting antelope to bring home for dinner, protagonist Llewellyn Moss stumbles upon the bloody aftermath of a messy drug deal. After investigating the area and searching for who he thought would be “the last man standing” (McCarthy, 15), Moss finds another dead body lying next to a satchel containing 2.4 million dollars in cash. He makes the critical decision to pick up the satchel and run, igniting a series of events that not even the law could contain. Upon his return to the desert in which the money was found, Moss is seen by a man (Chiguhr) hired to find and retrieve the money that was stolen. What followed was a cat and mouse game between the psychopathic killer Anton Chiguhr and the story’s likeable protagonist Llewellyn Moss. McCarthy demonstrates his masterful writing talents by using powerful motifs such as the coin toss to allude to universal themes as ancient as the bible such as principle, fate, and nihilism. After Llewellyn’s early demise, the novel concludes in an anticlimactic fashion. As Anton Chiguhr safely lives on, Sherriff Bell retires from duty due to the harsh realities of evil he has witnessed.
Throughout the novel, it is evident that a major theme was that of principle. Each of the three central characters previously mentioned express their own fundamental understanding of the world. Llewellyn Moss is placed in many situations throu...


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...where he mentions a “prophet of destruction” (McCarthy, 4) whom he doesn’t want to meet and fails to understand. The series of events that Bell witnessed led to nihilism in the novel as he failed to understand the morality in the universe. Because of this, Bell retires from duty at the end of the novel. In William Golding’s 1954 novel The Lord of the Flies, a group of British boys find themselves stranded on an uninhabited island after their plane crashes. The story focuses on the boys as they try to govern themselves. The novel focuses on themes such as human nature and instinct which lead the novel to have a sense of nihilism throughout. The boys lose their sense of morality for survival, leading to questions that bring up nihilism. Both novels touch on this philosophy as they challenge morality and human nature through the experiences and ideals of the characters.

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