The character, Anton Chigurh, from "No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy, does his name (Chigurh) have any specific meaning or nationality?I want to make sure that I am on the right path...

The character, Anton Chigurh, from "No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy, does his name (Chigurh) have any specific meaning or nationality?

I want to make sure that I am on the right path regarding this character's analysis and that his name has no real meaning. The theory is that Chigorh is a symbol of Death and that Chigorh was a representation of an average man so as not to appear as an initial threat to people.

Expert Answers
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's very interesting that you would ask this particular question, as my older brother was actually in the movie version of No Country for Old Men, and while they were on set in Texas, Cormac McCarthy stopped by for one day to offer advice to the Coen brothers and to see (which must have been fascinating) what the story he had created in his mind and on paper looked like on set.

My brother is a huge fan of McCarthy, and took a bit part in The Road just so he could be in another movie based on his books.  He spoke to him for a while that day on location, and asked him the exact same question you posed above, so in this case, I can give you an answer straight from the author.  What he told my brother was that he intentionally gave the character Anton Chigurh a name devoid of clues as to nationality or origin so that readers would concentrate on who Chigurh was in the moment, without focusing on the background that created him.  It's genius, to me, because it's another way his story does not insult us as readers.  To McCarthy, not everything needs to be explained, nor is the explanation even that important, it's all the character in this case and his role in the story.  The Coen brothers also achieve this with Javier Bardem in the movie version when they give him an accent that's impossible for the viewer to identify.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One possibility that always occurs to me when I read the name "Chiguhr" is that McCarthy may be playing on the word "chigger." As anyone who has even been bitten by chiggers knows, the pain is intense, and chiggers are relentless and difficult to avoid. They cannot be seen and seem to be everywhere; one never knows when to expect a chigger bite. All these traits seem relevant to the character Anton Chiguhr.

For anyone who has been lucky enough never to hear of chiggers, here is a definition of "chigger" from Steadman's Medical Dictionary:

  1. The six-legged larva of mites of the family Trombiculidae,parasitic on humans and other vertebrates and inflicting abite that produces a wheal accompanied by intense itching.Also called harvest bug , harvest mite , jigger , red bug .

  2. Chigoe.


sboeman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe you are correct, and I would recommend watching the behind-the-scenes version of the film since that was the intent in the movie.  Actually, even the costumer had the task of creating a wardrobe that did not reflect any particular ethnicity, time period, etc. as well.

I was initially thinking that the name "Anton" might be of some European descent, such as Russian, or even that the name might be short for "Antonio" or "Anthony", but his physical features and his last name seem to contradict these assertions.  Of course, "Chigurh" is much harder to pinpoint, and this seems to be Cormac's intent.

bobodor | Student

i just realized that someone else said the same exact thing just in better wording... my apologies

bobodor | Student

Another reason that he named the character Chigurh is because he wanted a last name with no racial or religious attachment. He just wanted a name that the reader wouldn't be able to assume the ethnicity or religion of the character.

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No Country for Old Men

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