Last Updated 24 Nov 2017

Middleman vs Ghost

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The Middleman VS The Ghost In the novel No Country for Old Men, the author, Cormac McCarthy, utilizes a unique style in his writing. From the dialogue to the plot, this novel is very different from McCarthy’s previous novels. Whereas the classic Western usual has a single protagonist, for example McCarthy’s very own Blood Meridian, which mainly centers around one main character, The Kid, No Country for Old Men is focused on three central individuals: Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Llewellyn Moss, and Anton Chigurh. This notable technique allows reader to visualize the story from three points of views.

Due to the post-war setting, specifically after the Vietnam War, the United States is in a state of turmoil led by violence and drugs. Due to the many scenes involving gun shoot-outs and characters on the run, No Country for Old Men can be interpreted as a genre of crime action and horror. When readers read or watch crime action, they expect it to start off with a criminal committing a crime and it ending with a hero solving the crime and capturing the bad guy. Some of the popular works of crime action are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series and CBS’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation show.

Like all genres, crime action has some loose guidelines: crime, investigation, and solution. The plot usually centers between the protagonist and antagonist. However, McCarthy adds a twist to the genre by adding a middleman. Readers can easily depict Chigurh as the antagonist since he commits multiple homicides, but who is the protagonist and middleman? At first, Moss appears to be the protagonist, but due to Moss’s death at the end, Bell ends up being the protagonist; thus making Moss the middleman. At first, readers assume Moss to be the protagonist since Chigurh is chasing after him.

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In addition, Moss gives off the impression that he is able to protect himself with his extensive knowledge on guns and ability to run away. Yet, this notion is proven wrong when Chigurh successfully kills Moss. In the end, Moss is considered to be an arrogant, selfish middleman, because he ignored the help of Sheriff Bell thinking that he can escape the grasp of Chigurh and put his wife and himself in danger for the sake of money. There are numerous times when Chigurh is committing a crime so quickly and andomly that Bell refers to him as a “ghost” (McCarthy, 149) and Wells calls him a “psychopathic killer” (McCarthy, 80). Yet, probably the biggest scene is when Chigurh attempts to kill Moss at Eagle Pass, but gets in a shoot-out with a group of Mexican drug dealers. Moss was able to escape from Chigurh, but suffered a fatal wound; the Mexicans were not so lucky as they were all killed. Though Chigurh was able to survive the shoot-out, he still ended up getting injured. This scene gives reader a sense of action due to Chigurh’s cunningness and skillfulness at executing crimes.

Despite the multiple crimes, what makes No Country for Old Men a crime action is the cat-and-mouse chase. Throughout the novel, Moss is constantly running for his life, Chigurh’s persistent pursuit after Moss, and Bell’s attempt to save Moss by going after Chigurh. In Lydia Cooper’s article “’He’s a Psychopathic Killer but So What? ’: Folklore and Morality in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men”, Cooper points out how McCarthy uses a “narrative structure [that] follows a ruling action of tri-episodic-action-repetition. In the novel, there is an emphasis on events occurring three times (Cooper, 10). Moss and Chigurh encounters each other three times, but Moss ends up dead on the third time (McCarthy, 99-239); Chigurh almost gets killed three times (McCarthy, 6-261); Chigurh and Bell almost face each other three times, but Chigurh always manage to avoid contact (McCarthy, 93-245). This method used by McCarthy gives the reader a sense of hit or miss in this crime action genre. Due to Anton Chigurh’s psychotic killings, nobody is safe in the novel.

Therefore, the trope “Anyone Can Die” is well suited for the crime action in No Country for Old Men. Anton follows Moss’s every moves and kills everybody that Moss comes in contact with. Anton mercilessly kills innocent people just for driving Moss or working in the hotel he is staying at. McCarthy successfully portrays Chigurh as a ruthless, cold-hearted killer who has his own set of rules and morals. After the reader finds out how terrifying Chigurh is, McCarthy offers a false sense of hope by introducing Carson Wells.

The trope “Contract on the Hit Man” goes with the novel by adding another hit man to kill the antagonist. Hired by the same company Chigurh was, Wells’ objectives were to retrieve the drug money and kill Chigurh. Readers feel relieved to know that somebody in the same field as Chigurh will be able to bring him down. However, hope is quickly crushed when Chigurh puts a hole in Wells’ face (McCarthy, 103) and kills his contractor (McCarthy, 117). These actions intensify Chigurh as a powerful and cunning psychopath who can’t be stopped.

One significant characteristic of No Country for Old Men is that readers get to see the antagonist’s point of view. Through the eyes of Chigurh, readers get an understanding as to why he decides to kill innocent civilians. Through his own set of morals, Chigurh kills anybody that he thinks might pose a threat to him. When Chigurh talked to the proprietor of a gas station, Chigurh, out of the blue, tells the proprietor to “call it” after he tosses a quarter (McCarthy, 29). The reason Chigurh did a coin toss was to see whether or not he would let the proprietor live.

This event shows the antagonist’s odd mindset, but yet gives the reader and unnerving awareness that he has “morals”. People who love to read or watch about horror expect to feel fear or panic caused by psychopaths or supernatural creatures. Some memorable works of horror are Stephen King’s novels or FX’s original hit series American Horror Story. What makes horror so frightening yet so fascinating is that it takes the readers out of their comfort zone and distorts their imagination. The creation of horror is usually created through the use of folklore or fantasy.

The convention involves a terrifying antagonist going after the protagonist(s) in an eerie setting; it is similar to the theme of a wolf hunting a flock of sheep. If one thinks from a different point of view, No Country for Old Men is a bit similar to the horror movie Psycho when the main character ends up getting killed after stealing some money. At a different perspective, No Country for Old Men has some horror qualities to it. What makes the novel like a horror is Chigurh. McCarthy portrays Chigurh as a seemingly immortal, metaphysical character.

His nonstop pursuit after his victims is haunting and the way he kills them after he captures them is distinctive. Like Freddy Krueger with his sharp, metal claws and Jason with his machete, Chigurh has his own special weapon: a stun gun attached to an air-tank. With his signature M. O. , usually a bullet to the head or between the eyes, Chigurh is a notorious psychopathic killer. The trope “Once is not Enough” depicts the horror genre in No Country for Old Men by showing how foolish Moss was to let Chigurh live. Chigurh and Moss has met three times; the first two times, Moss was able to narrowly escape Chigurh.

The second encounter, Moss had the advantage over Chigurh by surprising Chigurh at gunpoint. For some reason, Moss let him live despite knowing the threat Chigurh posed to him. This is where the trope “Once is not Enough” applies; the victim lets the killer live thinking that running away is the solution. If Moss had taken the chance to kill Chigurh, then he would not have died in the end. Another trope “Unfinished Business” shows how strong-willed a villain can be. After attending Moss’s funeral, Carla Jean, the wife, returns to her house.

When she heads to her room, she discovers Chigurh waiting for her on her bed. She knew why he was there but attempts to dissuade him from killing her by telling him he does not have to kill her. Taking pity on her, Chigurh gives her a second chance by letting the coin decide her fate. Nonetheless, fate was not on her side, and Chigurh killed her. The reason Chigurh killed Carla Jean was to finish the business he had with Moss. Even though Cormac McCarthy follows the conventions of crime action and horror, in some ways he steps out of the boundaries to create a twist to his novel.

The norm in crime action genre is that the hero ends up being the victor and the enemy ends up losing. Despite this, McCarthy shocks the reader by abruptly killing Moss, which makes Chigurh the winner. In addition, since Sheriff Bell quits his job, which means that Chigurh is on the loose, the protagonist loses. The convention of a horror genre involves a sinister setting haunted by an ominous individual. Yet, the villain, Chigurh, travels to various places to track Moss. By breaking a few conventions, McCarthy gives the reader a taste of his own crime action and horror in No Country for Old Men.

Cormac McCarthy successfully portrays the genres of crime fiction and horror in No Country for Old Men through his characters, plot, setting, and use of language. With the twist of including a middleman, McCarthy changes the convention of crime action; he also goes out of the norm by letting the antagonist be the winner at the end. The author also portrays Chigurh as a paranormal being that cannot be stopped, which gives the novel a sense of horror. This allows readers to enjoy a good crime fiction novel with some horror mixed into it. Works Cited Page Bennett, Steven.

Definition of the Crime Fiction Genre. 13 Nov. 2012. http://www. findmeanauthor. com/definition_horror_fiction_genre. htm Cooper, Lydia R. "'He's a Psychopathic Killer, but So What? ": Folklore and Morality in Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. " Papers on Language & Literature, Jan. 2009. Web. 6 Nov. 2012 Lydia R. Cooper, a student from Baylor University with a Ph. D. in English Literature, claims that Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men falls into the category of folklore and morality. The writer establishes a thesis-driven argument for her essay on Cormac McCarthy.

Cooper incorporates the use of many quotes from McCarthy’s novels to demonstrate how the genres are evident in NCFOM. Cooper’s audience can be narrowed down to McCarthy’s fans and enthusiasts of folklore and/or morality. Her main goal is to show a unique perspective of No Country for Old Men. Genre Descriptions (Fiction Only). Agent Query LLC. 13 Nov. 2012. http://www. agentquery. com/genre_descriptions. aspx McCarthy, Cormac. No Country for Old Men. New York: Knopf, 2005. Print. No Country for Old Men. TV Tropes Foundation, LLC, n. d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. http://tvtropes. org/pmwiki/pmwiki/php/Main/Nocountryforoldmen

Middleman vs Ghost essay

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