Study Guide

No Country for Old Men Carla Jean Moss (Kelly Macdonald)

Carla Jean Moss (Kelly Macdonald)

Southern Girl

Carla Jean Moss is the loving young wife of Llewellyn Moss … and that's just about all we know about her.

Well, we do get a few hints about Miss Carla Jean toward the beginning of the movie, when her main role lies in asking Llewellyn as many questions as possible, saying, "What's in the satchel? […] Where'd you get the pistol? […] Did you buy that gun? […] What'd you get for that thing?" These questions tell us that she's curious, concerned—and probably not as dumb as she looks.

It seems like she and Llewellyn have a pretty stereotypically gendered relationship, since she shuts up as soon as her man tells her to and submissively agree to go visit her mother even though, as she says, she's :got a bad feeling, Llewellyn." She might have to put up with a lot, but she's proud of the man her husband is. She says to Sheriff Bell at one point, "He won't [quit] neither. He never has. He can take on all comers."

Fight the System

In the end, Carla isn't just a yes-woman to Llewellyn's bad decisions. She realizes that her husband is in deeper trouble than he can handle alone and calls Sheriff Bell to tell him where Llewellyn is. That's a pretty bold move, even if it does come too late for Bell to save him.

Llewellyn's death isn't the only tragedy Carla has to face. Her mother dies from cancer soon after and then she returns home to find Anton Chigurh waiting to kill her. He offers her the chance to save herself by calling a coin toss, but she rejects the offer. Carla Jean has already lost the only two people she cares about (her mother and husband) and she doesn't feel all that willing to indulge Chigurh's dumb games. In this sense, you might say she stands up to Chigurh more effectively than any other character in this movie. She refuses to accept his worldview and engage with him, which no other character manages to do. In fact, refusing to answer might be even bolder than her husband's tactic of waiting up for him with a gun.

Carla Jean won't give Chigurh the satisfaction of thinking that he's some random act of chaos. Instead, she confronts him with the claim, "The coin don't have no say. It's just you."

The comment frustrates and maybe even rattles Chigurh, as a few ungrammatical words turn him from an agent of chaos into a delusional egomaniac. (See? We told you she wasn't as dumb as she looks.) Our question: is Carla Jean the one who can fight back because she's a woman? Or is there some other reason that this sweet Southern girl gets to say some of the movie's most important lines—even if she doesn't make it out alive?