Study Guide

No Country for Old Men Old Age

By Cormac McCarthy

Old Age

Chapter I

I wont push my chips forward and stand up and go out to meet him. It aint just bein older. I wish that it was. I cant say that it's even what you are willin to do. (1.1.2)

Bell says it's not about being older, but maybe it is. Maybe he's just tired of doing his job. Maybe he's got that old-man fatigue he didn't have as a young man. On the other hand, maybe he's just seen too much.

Chapter II

I dont know if law enforcement work is more dangerous now than what it used to be or not. (2.1.1)

This is one of the book's greatest questions, but we think Bell answers it for us as the book goes on. The work is definitely more dangerous than it used to be, and we can't predict how dangerous it will become by the time we are old.

Chapter III

I dont know that law enforcement benefits all that much from new technology. Tools that comes into our hands comes into theirs too. Not that you can go back. (3.1.1)

Unfortunately, the technology is more dangerous in the drug runners' hands because they know how to use it. Not only are the old people slow with technology, they also don't have the same drive. On top of that, they're reacting instead of acting.

Chapter VI

Young people anymore they seem to have a hard time growin up. I dont know why. Maybe it's just that you dont grow up any faster than what you have to. (6.1.1)

Perhaps there won't be any old men if young people never grow up. Or we're just headed toward an age of old people who act like children? Bell thinks about the good old days just enough to make us think he's thinking about the past with rose-colored glasses—and yet it's true that his world has become much more violent, and people have stopped taking responsibility for their actions.

Chapter VII

Even when I say anything about how the world is goin to hell in a handbasket people will just sort of smile and tell me I'm gettin old. (7.1.1)

Bell is sometimes written off as a crotchety old man. Is that reputation deserved, or does he have a point?

Chapter VIII

One of the things you realize about gettin older is that not everbody is goin to get older with you. (8.1.1)

If you're looking for a gift for Sheriff Bell, we recommend the book All My Friends Are Dead. Is there anything good about getting old? It seems that it's just one sadness after another.

Chapter IX

What happened to the old people?

They've moved on to other things. (9.2.42-9.2.43)

This conversation between Chigurh and a drug lord isn't actually about old people; it's about the people who used to do this job. And by "other things," Chigurh probably means death. But these same phrases could apply to old wrinkly folks, too. They've died or given up. Either way, they have moved on.

I got to say you look older, he said.

I am older. (9.3.23-9.3.24)

This is one of those socially annoying ways of saying "you look tired." Bell is old and tired, though, so it's an accurate assessment. As stressful as his job is, he probably looks much older than he actually is right now.

Chapter XI

He just rared back and laughed and he said: Where do they find somebody like you? Have they got you in diapers yet? (11.1.9)

This is the worst insult Bell could receive at a time like this. He's already insecure about his ability to continue doing his job, and this little punk in prison picks up on that and throws it at him.

He said I was bein hard on myself. Said it was a sign of old age. (10.1.1)

Do people get harder on themselves as they get older? Or is Bell in a unique situation because of his perceived failure at his job, a failure he attributes to generational differences?