From Brad Smissen, Murrieta, CA:
Re: "No Country for Old Men": I'm a bit surprised that nobody has really touched on Chigurh's theology or lack thereof. In the book McCarthy makes clear that Chigurh is a non-believer. This is huge. I believe it's McCarthy's intention to say that Chigurh's atheism carved him into a Darwinian creature with a powerful survivalist function. That's the thing, Chigurh isn't meant as some reaper figure at all. He's an atheist/survivalist, plain and simple. It's not an accident that Chigurh is able to give himself first rate medical care after his leg gets shot up. Nor is McCarthy alluding to some military/medical background. Chigurh has equipped himself to live, he means to live above everything else.
Now, remember when he tells Carson Wells -- if the rule you followed led you to this then what good is the rule? This tells us two pretty revealing things about Chigurh. One, that Chigurh is pretty sophisticated and understands that lawmen of all stripe/mode must operate within confined moral/legal spaces. And two, it would appear that Chigurh willfully operates under an evil banner because it's . . . are you ready for this -- safer, i.e. it best serves his strong survivalist function. Many people have labeled "No Country" as one of Cormac's more simple books. But I don't see it that way at all. I see it as a modern classic, a deep meditation on the natural conclusion of atheism (the recklessly craven positioning of self for purposes of survival) and the believers who dare to exist for causes outside of self, an endeavor that "No Country" makes clear is noble indeed but corrosive to the soul.
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