Study Guide

No Country for Old Men What's Up With the Ending?

By Cormac McCarthy

What's Up With the Ending?

Feel-good book of the year! is a blurb you will never see applied to No Country for Old Men. Most of the named characters we would call "good" guys—people like Llewelyn and Carla Jean, and maybe even Wells—end up dead. Chigurh escapes without punishment. And our remaining good guy, Bell, is left thinking, "The point is there aint no point" (8.2.157).

Okay, technically Llewelyn thought that line, but Bell shares the sentiment. He sees that a lackey has taken the fall for Chigurh, and he feels an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. He realizes, "We're bein bought with our own money" (12.1.2). The Mexican drug runners aren't the only problem. The Americans buying drugs are just as responsible for all these terrible deaths.

In the book's final chapter (unlucky Chapter 13), Bell has a dream about his father, an old man from an older time. As you know from the title, this is no country for old men, and now Bell himself is old.

The dream is dark and cold, and Bell's father rides ahead to build a fire. Bell "knew that whenever he got there he would be there" (13.1.2). Except he never gets there; he wakes up before that ever happens. Because all of the work that Bell's father—and Bell himself, for that matter—has done to make the country a brighter place has been eroded in favor of darkness. And it keeps getting darker and more hopeless.

Pleasant dreams, Shmoopers.