Study Guide

No Country for Old Men Perseverance

By Cormac McCarthy


Chapter I

He ran cold water of his wrists until they stopped bleeding and he tore strips from a handtowel with his teeth and wrapped his wrists and went back into the office. (1.2.5)

Ouch. This is one of our first clues that Chigurh will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He doesn't even take a breath to say "ouch" when his wrists are cut open and bleeding.

If you knew there was somebody out here afoot that had two million dollars of your money, at what point would you quit lookin for em?

That's right. There aint no such a point. (1.3.142-1.3.143)

Llewelyn knows about the danger involved when he takes the money. That proves how persistent he is. Even though he knows he will always be on the run—you know, for his whole life—he still takes the dough. He is confident. Maybe over-confident.

Nothing wounded goes uphill, he said. It just doesn't happen. (1.3.42)

This line is a lie. Llewelyn is facing an uphill battle from the moment Chigurh gets on his trail, but that doesn't prompt him to give up. He keeps going, even when he is wounded. Okay, to be sure, he doesn't make it in the end; maybe the sentiment should be nothing wounded goes uphill without dying.

By the time he dragged himself shivering out of the river he was the better part of a mile from where he'd gone in. His socks were gone and he set out a jog barefoot toward the standing cane. (1.3.173)

You don't get much more determined than you are if you're walking through the desert without shoes or socks. No shoes, no socks, no problem? All righty.

Then he slung the rifle over his shoulder and set out. (1.3.10)

There's a lot of meaning packed into Cormac McCarthy's short, simple sentences. This example shows us Llewelyn's determination. In fact, you could use this sentence to describe Llewelyn's actions in almost any of chapters of the book. Except the ones where he's dead.

Do not, he said, get your dumb ass shot out here. Do not do that. (1.3.38)

Everybody needs a pep talk. Some of those pep talks have life-or-death consequences. This is one of them.

Langtry Texas was thirty miles as the crow flies. Maybe less. Ten hours. Twelve. His feet were already hurting. His leg hurt. His chest. His arm. The river dropped away behind him. He hadnt even taken a drink. (1.3.182)

We've seriously just met Llewelyn, and already, he's been shot, he's sum through a river, and he's hiked through the desert with no socks on. You gotta give the guy some respect. Chigurh may be an unbeatable foe, but Llewelyn sure puts up a good fight. Was the money worth it?

Chapter III

Well let's just take it one day at a time. (3.3.248)

Llewelyn is talking about hotel rooms here, but his line has a double meaning. From here on out, he's having to take his life one day at a time.

Except of course that there were probably at least two parties looking for him and whichever one this was it wasnt the other and the other wasnt going away either. (3.3.275)

Although Llewelyn realizes someone will be after him for the rest of his life, he realizes that there are two parties after him—and that's not including Chigurh, who is an army of one. As he reaches the height of his determination, he has to double up on it.

Chapter VI

When he was done he disinfected the wound a final time and tore open packets of four by fours and laid them over the holes in the leg and bound them with gauze off of a roll packaged for sheep and goats. (6.2.10)

As we've said, Chigurh is just as determined as Llewelyn is. Maybe even more so. While Llewelyn checks himself into a hospital, Chigurh decides to perform minor surgery on himself. That's nuts. It's also a good sign that Llewelyn, strong as he is, is still no match for this crazy sugar dude.