How is Cormac McCarthy's novel No Country For Old Men similar to and different from the noir mystery thriller genre?  I’m looking at the ways the formal development of the novel resembles a noir...

How is Cormac McCarthy's novel No Country For Old Men similar to and different from the noir mystery thriller genre?

 

I’m looking at the ways the formal development of the novel resembles a noir mystery thriller.

Also, I’m looking at the movie, so a film perspective helps too (film noir genre characteristics).

In what ways does McCarthy depart from this genre? Examples?

Thank you so much.


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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country for Old Men resembles noir mystery fiction in a number of ways. Raymond Chandler famously wrote about noir mysteries that

Their characters lived in a world gone wrong, a world in which, long before the atom bomb, civilization had created the machinery for its own destruction and was learning to use it with all the moronic delight of a gangster trying out his first machine-gun. The law was something to be manipulated for profit and power. The streets were dark with something more than night.

No Country for Old Men definitely depicts a “world gone wrong,” and indeed this theme is constantly emphasized in Sheriff Bell’s meditations, especially as the book develops.

Similarly, McCarthy’s novel emphasizes the kind of darkness and evil that are prime traits of noir fiction.

However, although McCarthy’s book touches on the corruption of law enforcement, Sheriff Bell is such a thoroughly (and sometimes incredibly) virtuous character that McCarthy’s book has the kind of firm moral center missing from much noir fiction.

Meanwhile, Anton Chigurh is such a thoroughly, almost supernaturally evil character that he almost seems to belong in a horror novel, rather than in a noir mystery.

 

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