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What are some of the symbols in No Country For Old Men?In the assigment, I have to list...

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bmacioci8 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:40 AM via web

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What are some of the symbols in No Country For Old Men?

In the assigment, I have to list symbols from the story. So far all I have are Death, Money, and War. What are some of the other symbols?

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 14, 2010 at 4:09 PM (Answer #1)

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A "symbol", in a literary sense, is an object in the story that represents something else, such as a dove representing peace, or a child's doll representing innocence.

The two most glaring symbols I can think of in No Country For Old Men are both carried by the antagonist, Anton Chigurh: the coin, and the bolt gun he uses to kill his victims and enter buildings.

The coin he uses to determine whether a potential victim will live or die, believing he surrenders his will as a killer to the will of the coin.  It is a symbol of random chance, in my opinion, that a coin could find its way to Chigurh and then to his victims by pure random paths, their deaths reduced to a coin flip, as random as if they were hit by a bus or killed in war.

The bolt gun, actually called a Captive Bolt Gun, used to kill cattle, is instead used by Chigurh to murder humans.  I believe McCarthy intended it to be a symbol of slaughter, in this case not of cows, but of men, and in the same manner as cattle - dehumanized, their value reduced to that of mere animals.

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