No Country For Old Men
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Immediately take note of some of the stylistic choices here... First of all, what is the point of view? Watch the video on point of view to help you to determine the narrative perspective. Secondly, why do you think this is italicized? Look for italicization such as this as you continue to read the novel... (This annotation contains a video)
What has structurally shifted from the first part of the chapter (which was italicized) to this section of the text?
Notice how the author refrains from using quotation marks when showing dialogue. This is a unique stylistic choice... Why do you think the author does this? What is the effect?
Evaluate Moss' reaction to seeing dead bodies. Based on his actions and behavior, what can you infer about Moss?
The character is speaking Spanish here. If you need help translating some of these words, visit the website posted below. On the other hand, if you encounter unfamiliar words that are in English as you read, just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Is there a word on this page you need to look up? (This annotation contains a link)
Review the details in the highlighted excerpt. What does Moss suspect happened here? Why does he start to follow the man's trail? Provide specific examples from the text to support your response.
Notice how Moss "kept to the speed limit every mile of the way." This detail suggests that he wants to avoid being pulled over by a police officer... Why might he want to avoid any interaction with the law right now? Has Moss done something illegal here? If not illegal, then has Moss perhaps done something immoral? Why or why not?
Based on the details provided, what can you infer is the identity of the woman in this chapter?
Examine the details in the highlighted excerpt. Where do you think Moss is going when he says he has "Somethin I forgot to do"?
Watch the following video on tension and evaluate how the author creates tension in this scene. Consider details such as how Moss removes the light bulb from the interior of his truck... He wants to remain hidden, but why? What dangers might he be facing here?
To whom is Moss speaking with here?
A metaphor occurs when an author compares two unlike things, which can be seen in this highlighted line. A simile, on the other hand, is when an author compares two unlike things using the words "like" or "as." Look for metaphors or similes as you continue to read the text.
This is a very interesting technique to create suspense! The hawk's sudden flight while "whistling" might suggest that the hawk sees someone (or something) coming. This tells us that the men chasing Moss might be nearby.
Identify three specific dangers that Moss faces by the end of this chapter. How might these dangers ultimately turn into conflict(s) as the novel progresses? Use specific examples from the text to support your response.
Similar to Chapter One, the first person narrator returns once again in this italicized introduction to Chapter Two. Although we do not know this individual's name, make an inference about what his job is based on the details provided.
Since you can infer that the italicized first person narrator is likely a police officer or sheriff, there is a good chance that Sheriff Bell is the speaker in those opening excerpts of Chapters One and Two. If this is true, then pay close attention to Sheriff Bell, as he will likely play an important role in the novel.
Why do you think the author describes this scene with the dead hawk?
What is the effect of the highlighted dialogue?
Why must Carla Jean leave and plan on never returning to their home?
Odessa is a city in Texas, which is shown on the map below. As you may have been able to infer from the clues provided thus far, the novel takes place along the Mexico-Texas border. (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the following video on direct and indirect characterization. How does the author characterize Chigurh here? (This annotation contains a video)
Consider Chigurh's violent actions from Chapter One, as well as the manner in which he is characterized in his interactions with this store clerk. What do you think is likely going to happen if the store clerk "loses" this coin toss?
Evaluate the scene between Chigurh and the store clerk. What is the purpose of this scene and how does it serve to further characterize Chigurh? Furthermore, evaluate Chigurh's comments about how "anything can be an instrument." What is the significance of this?
The third person narrator jumps from one character to the next, often without a clear indication of a change. As you read, look for clues to decipher which character is the central focus. For example, how can you determine who "he" is in this highlighted line?
The author finally brings the stories of Chigurh and Moss together here... What can you predict about how their story lines will continue to intersect?
Examine how the author describes Chigurh's actions in the highlighted paragraph. What type of characterization does the author use here?
Notice how Sheriff Bell repeats the words "I don't know" several times in these opening paragraphs. This idea of uncertainty, or uncertainty of the future, may be an emerging theme in the novel. Watch for this as you continue to read.
What does the "it" refer to here in the line "I just wanted to say it"?
One of the ways in which the author is able to create suspense and tension can be seen in his omission of details... For example, notice how we are unable to know what the speaker on the phone is saying, thus provoking our curiosity. What are some other techniques McCarthy employs to create suspense?
Sanderson Canyon, shown below, is in the southern region of Texas. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the purpose of the highlighted paragraph?
Sheriff Bell is characterized as a very skilled and intelligent officer. Examine how the author develops this character as the novel progresses. For example, watch the following video on round and flat characters, and consider whether or not Bell is round or flat as you continue to read. (This annotation contains a video)
In this moment, the reader knows a few more details about the crime scene than the officers because of the author's use of parallel plot. A parallel plot occurs when an author weaves two or more plots together, often linking the plots with a common character or theme. How does McCarthy's use of parallel plot impact your understanding of events thus far? Does the use of parallel plot heighten the suspense and tension?
Watch the following video on foreshadowing. The fact that the officers have never seen this specific type of criminal before, paired with their confusion, may be a form of foreshadowing. What do you think? (This annotation contains a video)
Which word best describes Chigurh's character here?
Chigurh is an incredibly scary and lethal character. Notice how he calmly repeats the same line "where does he work." How does this repetition, along with his calm demeanor, add to the suspense of the scene?
The fact that Moss sleeps next to a machinepistol suggests which of the following?
Look at the map to decipher the location of Ciudad Acuna. As you may be able to see, it stands in Mexico on the Rio Grande (also known as the Rio Bravo), which marks the U.S.-Mexico border. Why do you think Moss is crossing into Mexico? (This annotation contains an image)
What does the speaker mean by the word "jackpot" here?
Consider why Moss doesn't just turn the money into the police and inform them of what he discovered in the desert. Why do you think Moss is choosing to run despite all of the dangers? What is his primary motivation (fear, money, etc)? Provide at least two specific examples from the text to support your analysis.
How does this first person narration at the beginning of each chapter shape your understanding of Sheriff Bell? Do you think he is a round or flat character-- why?
It seems as though Chigurh and Moss are consistently just one step ahead of the Sheriff and officers... Who do you think will ultimately prevail?
What does this dialogue suggest about Terrell County?
There are a number of important details here. Firstly, to what might this "transponder" connect? Secondly, notice how Chigurh shoots a bird... Compare this action to how Bell stopped and moved a dead hawk out of reverence / respect earlier in the novel. The author wants us to note the distinct differences between Bell and Chigurh; as such, continue to examine how these characters compare as you read.
What was the purpose of Moss getting a second motel room?
What does the detail about Chigurh walking in "socked feet" suggest?
We can infer that Chigurh was able to locate Moss because the transponder is connected to the money; however, Moss has already left the motel. Based on these details, however, it seems as though some other characters (whom Chigurh just murdered) were also on the hunt for Moss.
What does Moss "know was coming"? How does this line build suspense?
Moss intentionally left the transponder outside his hotel room so that he could lure his pursuer to the hotel. We can infer that Moss had planned to kill his pursuer; however, when Chigurh appears at his door, Moss decides to take his gun and run away--leaving his enemy alive. Why does Moss do this and what does this choice reveal about his personality?
What does the author mean by this line?
What does this highlighted passage reveal about Moss' mental and physical state?
What is Moss' motivation for fleeing to Mexico? Also, why does he throw the case?
What does the phrase "fresh parties" refer to in the context of this sentence?
Analyze the highlighted lines... What is the significance and meaning of this description here? Additionally, what have you learned about Moss and Chigurh in this chapter? Identify at least two distinct differences between these two characters.
What does Bell's thoughts here reveal about his character? What do you think he means by these lines?
The highlighted line might potentially prove to be an example of
Consider, once again, why Moss hasn't just turned they money in to the police and asked for help or protection. We have confirmation here that he is not in trouble with the law; therefore, why do you think he continues to run?
This brief detail tells us more about Moss' skills and abilities to defend himself. It sounds as though he may have killed people when in combat; however, Carla Jean notes he has never killed someone outside of a war zone. Do you think Moss is capable of doing so?
What is the author's purpose in including this story about how Moss and Carla Jean met?
It seems as though the author might want us to notice the similarities between Bell and Moss. Why would the author want us to observe this?
The detail that the nightclerk was shot "right between the eyes" suggests that he
Evaluate this excerpt... Do you think this might be an example of foreshadowing? If so, what is the author foreshadowing for the reader? If not, then what is your interpretation of this passage?
This line suggests that we are hearing another side to this drug deal gone wrong. The speaker here is missing "product" (drugs) and money. How might the introduction of these new characters add more tension to the plot?
The speaker here notes that Chigurh is a "psychopathic killer," which you have hopefully already inferred based on his murderous actions. Why do you think the author provides us with this direct characterization here?
Review the dialogue between Wells and the other man leading up to this point. The author provides a great deal of indirect characterization through this dialogue... Based on the details provided, which of the following words best describes Wells?
What is Wells doing at this hotel?
Notice how Wells, just like Moss, sleeps with his gun beside him. What does this detail suggest?
Are you surprised Wells was able to find Moss? What does this tell you about Wells' character and abilities?
What does this line confirm about Chigurh?
Do you think it is a coincidence that Moss' pain suddenly is "getting worse" after her learns Chigurh might kill his wife? What does this tell you about Moss' feelings for his wife?
Consider how the author has indirectly described Chigurh through his actions (for example, the scene with the coin toss). What sort of "principles" might Chigurh have? How do these principles connect with the emerging theme of fate vs. free will?
What do you think of this Wells character? Do you think he can be trusted?
Why doesn't Wells just kill Moss when he discovers him in the hospital?
Sheriff Bell's opening narratives often focus on how much things have changed over time--and how things have generally changed for the worse. This may serve as a form of foreshadowing as well as highlight an emerging theme. What theme(s) might be present here?
Why does Chigurh blow up the car here?
Tetracycline is an antibiotic used to fight various infections.
Summarize how Chigurh spends his time while recovering from his injury. Evaluate how his reactions to his injury serve to further reveal elements of his personality. Provide at least two specific examples to support your response.
Consider the meaning of the highlighted excerpt, and compare this passage to words from famed Columbian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez's book Love in the Time of Cholera: “He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” Evaluate each of these statements and summarize them in your own words. Do you think these authors are trying to convey the same idea here--why or why not? In what way(s) might Marquez's excerpt apply to a character in this novel?
The image below is from a 1950s postcard which shows the Devil's River Bridge, located west of Del Rio in Texas. (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the following video on denotations and connotations. What type of connotations does the word "bleeding" carry? How does this word choice influence the mood and tone here? (This annotation contains a video)
The author omits some significant action here. Examine the details and make an inference about what happens after Chigurh says, "Yes you can" to the clerk.
Consider "the rule" that Chigurh references here. It sounds like, once again, Chigurh is evaluating the role of fate and the power that fate has to determine actions and events. Do you think Chigurh sees himself as a sort of "messenger of fate" somehow?
What does the "it" refer to in the highlighted line?
Once again, the author builds suspense by refusing to fully inform the reader of all details in each scene. Here, we don't know who calls Wells' cell phone... Considering that Wells gave his cell number to Moss in the previous chapter, do you think it is possible that Moss is calling here?
Moss' "troubling dream" paired with this dialogue seems to foreshadow which of the following?
Chigurh does not directly state where he plans to go, but Moss responds "I know where you're going." Based on what you know about each character, where is Chigurh likely headed if Moss does not cooperate?
Take a moment to consider this question yourself. There's a great deal of violence and foreshadowing throughout the text; do you think the author is trying to tell you "how this is going to turn out"? What do you think will happen?
Re-read the highlighted line... What do you think Moss means here? Make a prediction about how Moss will respond to Chigurh's threat.
The author frequently conveys dialogue with short and brief statements, as seen here in the highlighted text. What is the effect of this?
This brief line seems to highlight exactly what Moss has experienced in this novel. What theme(s) might be present with this idea?
Examine the connotations in the highlighted line. What do the words "gripping" and "eased" suggest?
Why do you think Moss chooses this particular outfit? It sounds as though it might be rather impressive looking, and Moss even notes "I aint been dudded up like this since I got out of the army." How might his change of clothes represent a change in his attitude here?
Evaluate Wells' role in this text. Although he was only in two chapters, what was the author's purpose for including him in the novel? How did Wells help provide the reader with more insight into other characters and / or how did Wells add to the novel's complications? Provide at least three examples to support your response.
Sheriff Bell often focuses on how much things have changed over time, paying close attention to how the world seems to have become increasingly violent, corrupt, and dangerous. Compare this perspective to the painting "What a Wonderful World" by artist Susi Galloway, shown below. (This annotation contains an image)
Refer to the previous annotation to view the painting "What a Wonderful World' by Susi Galloway. What do you think this painting depicts or represents? How does this painting compare to Sheriff Bell's view of the world today? Is it similar or different? Provide at least two specific examples from the book and painting to support your response.
Recall the video annotation about denotations and connotations and then evaluate the words here. What type of connotations are associated with the words "gray," "cold," and "rain"? How do these connotations impact the mood here?
Based on all of the details provided, as well as what you know of Chigurh's character, whose house has he broken into here?
How does the author build suspense and tension here?
What do you think of Moss' mood here? Does he seem calm or afraid? What do you think he plans to do?
Based on the context, what can you infer the word "Migra" means?
This is an interesting element of characterization. Moss has illegally purchased a gun and seems prepared to use it; however, the author wants us to, once again, see the good in Moss. How does this scene highlight his goodness?
The fact that this man has taken "off the headset" and then immediately moves into action suggests that they have been eaves-dropping on Carla Jean and Sheriff Bell's phone conversation. What type of danger can come from this stranger learning of Moss' location?
The chapter ends with imagery and connotations that suggest danger is impending... Just prior to this, we can infer that a stranger has likely learned of Moss' whereabouts. Carla Jean, in an effort to help save her husband's life, may have inadvertently caused more harm to come his way. Evaluate how this connects to the theme of actions and consequences. Furthermore, how else has the theme of actions and consequences appeared in the novel thus far?
How have the tone of Bell's first person narratives at the beginning of each chapter changed or developed over the course of the text? Do you think his negative tone here foreshadows what may ultimately happen as we near the climax of the novel?
With what central theme does this line connect?
Why does the author include this interaction here?
This is an interesting question in response to the girl... Do you think Moss would have really done that to her if she had tried to steal his truck?
What central purpose does this conversation serve?
The interactions with this girl seem to highlight Moss' belief that actions have consequences. Do you think this is a belief that he has always had, or is it likely something he has learned only throughout the course of the novel?
Summarize two of the central themes that the author explores in Moss' conversations with the hitchhiker in this chapter. How have these themes evolved or developed over the course of the text?
Why do you think Moss goes to offer the girl a beer?
How would you describe the shift in Moss' tone as he talks to the girl in this scene?
Why do you think the author includes this excerpt? What idea does he want us to explore or consider?
Notice how the author personifies death, saying most people "cant wait to see him." Watch the following video on mood and tone. What type of tone is the author establishing with this reference? Do you think this tone serves to foreshadow events to come? (This annotation contains a video)
Closely examine the details provided, including how "the driver" here behaves (considering which character in the novel would likely act in this manner). Based on clues the author included earlier in this text, what can you infer has happened between the previous paragraph to this highlighted excerpt?
The author doesn't show us the shootout, but he he describes it through a witness' perspective here... What do you think happened? Who is "the Mexican" and who are the other two victims?
Based on the details, who can you infer is the victim described here?
We finally have definite confirmation that Moss was, indeed, killed (and likely killed by Chigurh). Why do you think the author omitted the scene of his actual death from the novel? How does this omission influence your understanding of events?
Once again, the author creates a great deal of tension and suspense, particularly in noting that "Chigurh waited, the pistol in his lap." What do you think will happen here?
What did Sheriff Bell figure out with this "cylinder" and why did he call for back up?
Make an inference based on the clues provided. What is Sheriff Bell doing here?
Who do you think Chigurh is going to see here?
Based on the evidence provided, identify who the "she" is in the highlighted paragraph.
Are you surprised that Chigurh is waiting for Carla Jean? What did the writer do here to cause you to feel so suddenly shocked?
Which of the following statements best summarizes why Chigurh feels he must kill Carla Jean?
Examine the imagery and connotations here... How do these details contrast with the dark and intense mood inside the room?
This entire interaction between Carla Jean and Chigurh explores many of the central themes in the text. Here, we once again see the themes of fate, destiny, and consequences. Compare Chigurh's attitude here to that of the character Cassius in William Shakespeare's famous play, Julius Caesar: (This annotation contains a link)
Refer to the previous annotation to read the excerpt from Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. In your own words, summarize this excerpt from Shakespeare's play. How does this excerpt connect to the central theme(s) in McCarthy's text? Furthermore, how does Chigurh's explanation for why he must kill Carla Jean connect with the central theme(s) of the novel? Provide specific examples to support your response.
Do you think the author intentionally chose to have young boys witness this accident? Observe their innocence, noting how the boy quickly says, "Why didnt you say so? I'll give you my shirt." How does this innocence contrast with Chigurh's character?
What might the young boys' desire to take the gun symbolize?
Why does the author show us this conversation? What is the purpose here?
What does the metaphor of "the ride" represent here?
There's a great deal of depth to this conversation between Bell and his uncle. Identify the author's purpose here and evaluate how the author explores the central themes of the novel through this dialogue.
Do you think Bell has experienced not only a loss of faith but a loss of hope in general? Does Bell believe that good can prevail or does he think that evil is more powerful?
What is significant about neither of these men watching the news anymore?
What best describes Bell's feelings here?
One of the central themes in the book is fate / destiny, but here Sheriff Bell evaluates how, generally, we are offered a choice; however, Bell also confirms that, in this situation, he did not really have a "good" choice. What does the author want us to consider with this?
What does the line "unload my wagon" mean in the context of this sentence?
As you approach the conclusion to the novel, take a moment to consider the book's title. The title is an allusion to famous Irish writer William Butler Yeats' poem "Sailing to Byzantium." Read the poem below and consider how it applies to the novel. (This annotation contains a link)
Refer to the previous annotation to read William Butler Yeats' poem. Summarize the poem in your own words and evaluate how this poem connects to the novel. Why do you think McCarthy chose to title his novel after a line in this poem?
Why do you think Bell is still interested in this case?
Consider the innocent woman here... She had no involvement in the negligent actions of these drivers; however, she was still negatively impacted. Does she remind you of any other character(s) in the novel?
Why might the boy be lying to officer Bell?
Although this boy was not harmed by Chigurh, it seems as though most people who encountered Chigurh would likely say the same thing after meeting him. What do you think?
Evaluate the significance of the dialogue at the close of this section in the text. What does the author want us to consider and how does this interaction connect with the greater theme(s) in the novel?
Based on the evidence and details, who do you think Sheriff Bell is speaking with here?
As this long discussion continues, think of the author's purpose. Furthermore, consider the deeper significance in this section of the text, such as thematic or symbolic interpretations. Watch the following video on symbolism to gain more insight into this literary device as you continue to read. (This annotation contains a video)
Refer to the previous annotation to watch the video on symbolism and consider how Chigurh's character may actually serve as a symbol in this novel. If this is the case, what might Chigurh ultimately symbolize?
This conversation is somewhat vague... What are Bell and his wife discussing? Why does the author include this conversation?
What does Sheriff Bell imply when he says, "I know where the debt lies."
What does this scene describe and what is the author's purpose in including this brief description?
This ending is highly symbolic. What do you think Bell's father and the fire represent? How does this symbol connect with some of the greater theme(s) in the novel? Lastly, why do you think the author chose to conclude his novel in this manner?