Study Guide

No Country for Old Men Choices

By Cormac McCarthy


We're going to flip a coin. Call it: heads or tails. Is it fate where the coin lands? Is it fate which side you call? Or is there a choice involved?

In No Country for Old Men, Chigurh believes that everyone is fated to end up in a certain place. And, if you get involved with Chigurh, that place is at the business end of his pistol. But it's possible for a person to make choices so as not to get involved with him. Right? As hopeless as this book can be at times, we have to believe that we can make the right choices and help improve things—we can choose to say no, right?—and make this Yes Country for All People.

Questions About Choices

  1. Consider Llewelyn's life as a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Which of Llewelyn's choices would you consider his fatal choice? How could he have reached a different ending?
  2. Did Carla Jean make the wrong choice in the fatal coin toss? Or would Chigurh have shot her, anyway?
  3. Why did Bell choose law enforcement? Was it the right choice for him? Do you think he will choose to leave?
  4. Does Chigurh make choices, or, like the Terminator, does he simply act on instinct? Is there any situation in which you think Chigurh made the wrong choice (for him)?

Chew on This

Choices cannot be undone. Once Llewelyn chooses to take the drug money, his path is set in stone.

Because almost every action in this book is affected by the drug trade, the most damaging choice anyone can make is to do drugs. The bitter irony is that no character in the book actually does drugs, but their lives are still affected—and sometimes even ended.