Cormac McCarthy
Adventure, Thriller
• Texas and Mexico, various small towns, motels, the
desert, etc.
• 1980s
• Protagonist
• The traditional forces of “good”—morality, action with reason,
and the law.
• Embodied by Sheriff Bell: An experienced, retirement-age
sheriff in a small county in Texas who attempts to lace up his
boots one last time to muster up the strength to face his greatest
challenge yet
• Antagonist
• The uprooting forces of a new wave of cutthroat crimecommitters, without morality or motive—crime for crime’s sake.
• Embodied by Anton Chigurh: A heartless hit man who kills for
sport, calculating and immoral. Sees himself as an instrument of
fate or death rather than a human being
• Other characters:
• Llewelyn Moss: A former soldier living a quiet life in the
Texan wilderness who gets in over his head in a world of
crime and senseless violence. The everyman of the story.
• Carson Wells: A rival hit man who seems more human than
Chigurh, a more honorable, albeit ruthless and deadly, man
• Texan landscape: Treated as a character itself; where the evil
spawns from. Characterized as a rough, unloving place that
is just as much a force on the story and its inhabitants as a
person. Part of Fate’s hand.
• Little, often incorrect grammar:
• Run-on sentences, misspelling of words, and lack of
commas, quotation marks, apostrophes, and capitalization
Use of Spanish language
Tone: conversational
Mode: informal
• Mostly straightforward phrasing
• Use of extinct words
• Syntax: simple
• Structure: interview confessions to third person
Style & Structure
• Morality vs. Immorality–take the money? Fight?
• Self preservation vs. Selfishness—what constitutes
horrible actions? How to retain humanity?
• Evil vs. good—on its most basic level
• Humanity vs. inhumanity—the struggle between
intrinsically evil and good people, and the forces that
effect the morality
• Money vs. Humanity—can the power of money be given
to man without changing him for the worse?
Major Conflicts
p. 17-18: Moss finds the money
p. 55-58: Chigurh’s coin toss
p. 148-157: Wells visits Moss in the hospital
p. 240-241: Moss’s body confirmed
p. 254-260: Chigurh kills Carla Jean
p. 303-305: Bell reflects
Key Scenes
• “You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But
yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of
the days it’s made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away
and change your name and I dont know what all. Start over. And then one
mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who’s layin there?”
– Moss, page 227
• “Every step you take is forever. You cant make it go away. None of it.”
– Moss, page 227
• “Things happen to you they happen. They dont ask first. They dont require
your permission.” – Moss
• “How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?” – Sheriff Bell
• “They dont have no respect for the law? That aint half of it. They dont even
think about the law. It dont seem to even concern em.” – Sheriff Bell, page
• “They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. But there is another view
of the world out there and other eyes to see it…” – Sheriff Bell, page 4
Key Quotations
Old vs. New
Good vs. Evil
Effects of Money—Can it bring happiness?
Changing society- the fate of our culture
What is evil?
Value of a life
Themes of Interest
When a 1980s Texas county sheriff comes in conflict with a
ruthless killer of a new age characterized by pure malice
emerging in his unprepared, quaint society, the results may
be a commentary on the hopeless nature of modern
humanity. Driven by greed, self interest, and apathy, the
modern man will succumb to the darkest part of himself
willingly, and even the best of humanity will lose faith and
allow for the defeat of society into organized chaos.
Theme Statement
Maddy Starr, Andrew Perricone, Kateri Sloat,
and Kalev Rudolph

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