Step 7 Extra Credit Project Proposal

Lauren Langston

This Type of Chigurh Isn’t Sweet

Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel No Country for Old Men presents conflicting ethical values as presented by the main characters. Discord is specifically showcased through the trouble created by the antagonist, Anton Chigurh, and how his malevolent actions create internal battles for other the characters. One central person affected by Chigurh’s crimes is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. The Sheriff is a representation of a classic law-abiding citizen who holds the law to the highest degree. His county is safe and small, not much interrupts daily life of the people in Odessa, Texas. When resident Llewellyn Moss accidentally gets involved in a drug deal gone wrong, the Sheriff is confronted with Chigurh who is sent to hunt down Moss. This forces the Sheriff to look at his town and the people within it in a completely new light. Chigurh faces the Sheriff with the realization that people are not as good as he once believed they were and that not even the law can stop evil from knocking on your door.

There have been numerous essays written on the conflicting morals of the Sheriff and Anton Chigurh. If readers simply skim through No Country for Old Men there seems to hardly be any relationship between the Sheriff and Chigurh because they never meet face-to-face. However, if read thoroughly it is obvious that everything Chigurh does is a catalyzes the Sheriff’s outlook on life and his understanding of humanity. In my paper, I plan to add to the discussion on the connection between Chigurh’s crimes to the Sheriff’s ethical beliefs. I will start by talking about why morals are so crucial to his outlook on Chigurh’s transgressions and how his time as the Sheriff of Odessa county also plays a role in this. I will then go on to discuss how Chigurh’s immorality affects the Sheriff and conflicts his perception of people and the law that he is defended for so long. I will use essays from The Cormac McCarthy journal that have helped me to understand why the Sheriff was so deeply affected by Chigurh and how this reiterated just how much of a villain our antagonist really is. I will use these essays to reinforce my point that throughout the course of the novel, Chigurh indirectly (but also drastically) changed the Sheriff’s perspective on people and forced him to realize that not everyone follows a moral compass that keeps them from doing wrong. Chigurh does things to people that make the Sheriff look outside of his small-town for the first time in life to see that the law cannot stop some people from doing awful things. I will argue that it is everything that Chigurh stands for and represents that takes the Sheriff out of Odessa and into a reality that is hard to swallow, one where good does not always triumph over evil.

Lauren Langston- Big Project 1: Text Selection

Text: No Country for Old Men

Author: Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men is a 2005 novel by Cormac McCarthy. Revolving around the events that follow a drug deal gone wrong close to the Mexican-American border, the plot follows the intertwined lives of three main characters (Llewelyn Moss, Anton Chigurh, and Ed Tom Bell). It contains themes of fate, free will, justice, higher law, evil, and the human struggle with morality. As for it’s regard to the canon, No Country for Old Men is too new of  a novel to officially be declared a canonical text.

I saw the Coen brother’s 2007 film adaptation of the novel in high school and ever since then I have wanted to read and studied it more in depthly. I was fascinated by the deeper themes and how boldly the film played with ideas of morality and am excited to explore them as McCarthy presents them in the novel. I expect to analyze these heavy themes and attempt to understand, through research, what McCarthy’s intended meaning his novel is. I aim to understand what themes McCarthy has interwoven in his novel and what he wants his audience to gain from them and his characters. I want to evaluate these themes in relation to the characters in attempt to connect their relationship to these themes (like morality) with ours. In my preliminary search of No Country for Old Men in the MLA International Bibliography, I found over five hundred academic journal articles in relation to theme and over four hundred in relation to characters. Using a narrowed down pick of these articles and the tools I have acquired in class, I expect to develop more than just and understanding of how themes relate to the characters but also where we can see these things represented and questioned in my own life and what McCarthy is prompting his audience to ask themselves after reading No Country for Old Men.

Feb 2: Space/Time

On page 138 of The Theory Toolbox, the authors state that “the social meanings we assign to spaces and times and the ways they are organized or produced in the material world tend to reproduce the existing social order”. What social meanings have you given to space and time and how do you think this has affected the way you view society? Can our definitions of space and time sufficiently measure human experiences? If not, then why do we try to do so anyway?

Jan 31: Culture

On pages 59-70 of The Theory Toolbox, there is a discussion about the differences between high culture and popular culture. After reading this section, do you think the authors find one culture more valuable than the other? How do they define the cultural differences and what are the benefits of studying both of them? Which culture do you believe you are more influenced by and why?