How is narrative language connected to the form and themes in Cormac Mccarthy's novel No Country for Old Men?
For a paper, I’m trying to describe how the language is used to correlate with the formal and thematic concerns McCarthy puts on display through the actions of Llewellyn, Chigurh, and Sheriff Bell.
I'm focusing on fatalism as a theme (the acceptance of all things and events as inevitable; submission to fate).
How is this fatalistic attitude reflected in dialogue and actions of the three characters?
Thanks so much.
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Much of the fatalism in Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country for Old Men is implied by the spare, lean, simple, unadorned phrasing of the book – phrasing strongly reminiscent of the writings of Ernest Hemingway. This is a kind of language that simply presents “the facts,” as if “the facts” are inevitable. A typical passage occurs in the following snatch of dialogue between Anton Chigurh and Carla Jean Moss. Carla Jean has been pleading with Chigurh not to kill her. Chigurh speaks first here:
When I came into your life your life was over. It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is the end. You can say that things could have turned out differently. That they could have been some other way. But what does that mean? They are not some other way. They are this way. You’re asking me that I second say the world. Do you see?
Yes, she said, sobbing. I do. I truly do.
Good, he said. That’s good. Then he shot her.
Here the unemotional, straightforward, abrupt, and brief phrasing helps reinforce the idea that emotions are useless in the face of facts. It is in the italicized passages spoken by Sheriff Bell that the possibility of alternatives, of how things might be different, is raised.
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