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.