For the first edition of Literary Libation's 2nd Wednesday series, No Country For Old Men will kick off the year with boots and spurs. As ChipperDemon loves to fondle, caress and salivate over popular forms of medium it is purely titillated to announce the commencement of the new contribution to a Wednesday series.
No Country For Old Men is perhaps Cormac McCarthy's most accessible creations, just after Oprah's Book Club Stamped, The Road. For these few days prior to the discussion of No Country For Old Men here are a few suggested questions to consider provided by Random House Inc.:
1. The title of the novel comes from William Butler Yeats’s poem “Sailing to Byzantium”: “That is no country for old men, the young / In one another’s arms, birds in the trees, / —Those dying generations—at their song.” The poem also contains the lines: “An aged man is but a paltry thing, / A tattered coat upon a stick, / Unless soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing / For every tatter in its mortal dress.” Why has McCarthy chosen a line from Yeats’ poem for his title? In what ways is No Country for Old Men about aging? Does Sheriff Bell experience any kind of spiritual rejuvenation as he ages?
2. Early in the novel, after Bell surveys the carnage in the desert, he tells Lamar: “I just have this feelin we’re looking at something we really aint never even seen before” [p. 46]. In what way is the violence Sheriff Bell encounters different than what has come before? Is Anton Chigurh a new kind of killer? Is he a “true and living prophet of destruction,” [p. 4] as Bell thinks? In what ways does he challenge Bell’s worldview and values?
3. After Llewelyn finds the money and comes home, he decides to go back to the scene of the crime. He tells his wife: “I’m fixin to go do somethin dumbern hell but I’m goin anways” [p. 24]. Why does he go back, even though he knows it is a foolish and dangerous thing to do? What are the consequences of this decision?
4. When asked about the rise in crime in his county, Bell says that “It starts when you begin to overlook bad manners. Any time you quit hearin Sir and Mam the end is pretty much in sight” [p. 304]. Is he right about this? Why would deteriorating manners signal a larger social chaos?
5. How can Anton Chigurh’s behavior be explained? What motivates him to kill so methodically and heartlessly? How does he regard the people he kills?
6. What motivates Sheriff Bell? Why does he feel so protective of Llewellyn and his wife? In what ways does Sheriff Bell’s past, particularly his war experience, affect his actions in the present?
7. Sheriff Bell says, “The stories gets passed on and the truth gets passed over. . . . Which I reckon some would take as meanin the truth cant compete. But I don’t believe that. I think that when the lies are all told and forgot the truth will be there yet. . . . You cant corrupt it any more than you can salt salt” [p. 123]. What incorruptible truths emerge from the story that McCarthy tells in No Country for Old Men?
8. Near the end of the novel, Bell says: “I think we are all of us ill prepared for what is to come and I dont care what shape it takes” [p. 295]. What kind of future is Bell imagining? Why does he think we are not ready for it? How can No Country for Old Men be understood as an apocalyptic novel?
Enjoy Reading and be sure to post thoughts!
(This post is subject to change)