What are some moments discussed in No Country for Old Men where Sheriff Bell is shown to have outdated values?

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caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of these moments, both specific and implied, in the introductory narratives Bell gives at the beginning of each chapter, moreso than in his roles in the chapters themselves.

  • Near the end of the book, Bell relates a story of visiting a man that was sentenced to death for killing and burning a state trooper. Bell didn't think the man did it (he probably thought it was Chigurh instead) and had testified as much at the man's trial, to no effect. The man implies Bell must have homosexual feelings for him, mocks his sympathy, and gleefully admits to having killed the officer. In this case, Bell's compassion and his assumption that the condemned man would appreciate his efforts were mistaken and overly altruistic. 
  • Bell states that he can't think of a reason for "that no-good" (Chigurh) to have killed Carla Jean; "what did she ever do to him"? This comes after a number of apparently senseless actions that Bell seems to be capable of accepting, anticipating or responding to. It's ironic that Chigurh probably offers more insight into his apparent lack of sense than anyone else.
  • This may be more my own interpretation than anything else, but Bell chooses to go down to the site of the shootout on horseback instead of driving. Considering that he said he had a county "the size of Delaware" that needs his help, I don't know where he found the time to bother with horses, and they don't provide any apparent benefit. I think Bell might be doing this almost out of hubris; to look the part of the "old-time" sheriff, when this is entirely inappropriate for the circumstances.
  • Bell and his Uncle discuss kids with "green hair and bones in their noses" and how the absence of "sir" and "ma'am" lead to societal breakdown. Frankly this seems more like sour grapes than a real argument. 
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No Country for Old Men

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