Analysis of book:
In McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, he pairs his stream of conscious style of writing with Chigur’s seemingly psychopathic, linear thought process in order to represent Chigur as someone who is truly without conscious, as if his goal in life is to annihilate life. The stylistic choice in the book is without quotation marks, which makes it harder to separate dialogue from thought or even the narrator’s (bell’s) description and conscious thought. By blending in Bell’s thoughts and Chigur’s thoughts, two seemingly disparate people, the line between good and evil people also blends. Though Chigur is obviously a hitman and kills mercilessly, he still has conversations with people, still allows for the person to have a chance at saving themselves and does not cheat that system. One character even said that he has principles. Bell’s character symbolizes lawful protection and a protector of freedom, but this blending yet again muddles the significance of this freedom, since Chigur’s thoughts can sometimes be confused to be Bell’s. The freedom that he is working to keep for the people perhaps spawned Chigur’s abilitiy and sense of entitlement to act the way he does.
Analysis of movie:
Coens’ movie parallels Moss and Chigur, the former who happened to flal in to Chigur’s path and kept at it by his natural need for money, and the latter who chooses the path to kill, in order to play up the motif of chance which is how Chigur sometimes decides a person’s fate, by coin toss. Bell, the sheriff of the town and the narrator in the beginning and end, is not mixed in to the scenes that Moss and Chigur are in perhaps to further emphasize the theme of life’s chance.
Analysis of adaptation:
Coen’s adaptation remained very faithful to the original, by keeping Chigur exactly as intended, a psychopathic yet calm, collected, and controlled hitman, and contrasting and comparing him with the other characters in order to play up the theme of how separate lives do entertwine regardless of choice. Chance is emphasized as well, beginning with the gas station man’s fortunate guess of heads to Carla jean’s decision to hand over the choice to Chigur. It is assumed that he did kill her in the end, because he checked his shoes probably for blood as he did before. This choice, then, breaks the hope that perhaps Chigur had some sense of compassion and spared her. The carcrash immediately following and the little boys’ compassion, which differed from the scene in the book, was both to show chance and compassion, a ying and yang which is pertinent to the cycle of life.
A letter promotes the idea that Chigurh is the representation of atheism and the complete reliance on the idea that life is just to surivive, that he is the product of Darwinism and survival for the fittest.
Ferraiolo explores Chigurh’s coin toss and chance, noting that he grants clemency to those whocan guess correctly what is underneath the coin, but these people are the ones who happen tocross his path and do not have to do with his chasing Moss, including Carla Jean. He says to carla jean that he and the coin got to where they are the same way. Ferriaolo suggests this means by nature and nurture, by some chance and push and pull in life, but points out that Carla Jean tells Chigurh that the coin doesn’t have any say, which is right. He ends up killing her anyways. Bell ends up quitting his job as law enforcer, because he feels overmatched by the criminals, specificallyChigurh. Ferraiolo suggests that the ending dream, in which Bell describes meeting his late father, shows that Chigurh may have had a hand in reuniting them, suggesting either that Bell became one of Chigurh’s victims or that life really is up to chance.
Javier Bardem discusses how he struggled with becoming Anton Chigurh and interpreting Anton, and whether or not there was comedy in his character.
No Country for Old Men has often been discussed in terms of religious dualism, with Chigurh representing evil, and Sheriff Bell representing goodness. Do you see the film in these terms? Or do the Coen brothers undercut such strict binaries in the film?
I don’t think the Coen brothers answered this directly, but rather posed the question and made viewers more skeptical of whether or not good really overpowers the evil, Chigurh, or if it is just chance and a few choices her and there that decide how life will turn out. A car crash as big as the one Chigurh was in didn’t kill him, but evidently killed the other driver. Though audiences may have been rooting for him to die because of his villainy, he got away at the end of the movie. Bell does not appear quite as much as Moss and Chigurh do, two men who adopted chance and choice to rule over them- Moss chanced upon the money and chose to hold it despite the dangers, the Chigurh chose to follow the serial killing road and used chance to let others decide their own fates, but escapes alive from situations that should have killed him.