Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men

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No Country for Old Men Chapters 1-2 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 1 Summary

Each chapter opens with the first person narrative of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. In the first chapter, Sheriff Bell recounts the only time he sent a man to the gas chamber. He went to visit the nineteen year old murderer of his fourteen-year-old girl girlfriend. The convicted murderer admitted to Sheriff Bell that he had been planning to kill someone for a long time and that if he was let out of prison he would kill again. Sheriff Bell muses upon this “new kind” (3) of person, who “by his own admission has no soul” (4).

He admits that that man was nothing compared with what he would soon encounter. He knows that there is great evil or a “true and living prophet of destruction” (4) abroad in the land whom he doesn’t want to meet. He states that he doesn’t want to have to put his soul at risk to confront such an evil.

Chigurh. In the next section, a man named Chigurh stands handcuffed in a sheriff’s office while a deputy sheriff talks to Sheriff Lamar on the telephone. He reports that he pulled this man over on the highway and found he had a weapon like those used to kill cattle in slaughterhouses. As the deputy’s back is turned, Chigurh slips his hands from the back to the front and strangles the deputy with his manacled arms. After killing the deputy, he calmly cleans himself up and drives away in the deputy’s cruiser. A few miles down the road, Chigurh pulls a civilian driver over on the highway, using the lights of the cruiser. He kills the man with his slaughterhouse weapon.

Moss. The last section of the chapter introduces Llewelyn Moss, who is hunting antelope at dawn, deep in the countryside. Llewelyn discovers the scene of a mass killing—a drug deal gone wrong. He studies the scene, tracing what has happened and tracks a man, now lying dead, who carried away the drug money. Moss steals the case of money, leaving one of the Mexican drug dealers, who has been shot in the gut, alive and…

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