No Country for Old Men
2005 novel by Cormac McCarthy
No Country for Old Men (2005) is a novel by American author Cormac McCarthy. The story occurs in the vicinity of the Mexico–United States border in 1980 and concerns an illegal drug deal gone awry in the Texas desert back country.
- Nothin wounded goes uphill, he said. It just dont happen.
- Anything can be an instrument, Chigurh said. Small things. Things you wouldnt even notice. They pass from hand to hand. People dont pay attention. And then one day there's an accounting. And after that nothing is the same. Well, you say. It's just a coin. For instance. Nothing special there. What could that be an instrument of? You see the problem. To separate the act from the thing. As if the parts of some moment in history might be interchangeable with the parts of some other moment. How could that be? Well, it's just a coin. Yes. That's true. Is it?
- The stories gets passed on and the truth gets passed over. As the sayin goes. Which I reckon some would take as meanin that the truth cant compete. But I dont believe that. I think that when the lies are all told and forgot the truth will be there yet. It dont move about from place to place and it dont change from time to time. You cant corrupt it any more than you can salt salt. You cant corrupt it because that's what it is. It's the thing you're talkin about. I've heard it compared to the rock — maybe in the bible—and I wouldnt disagree with that. But it'll be here even when the rock is gone. I'm sure they's people would disagree with that. Quite a few, in fact. But I never could find out what any of them did believe.
- People complain about the bad things that happen to em that they don't deserve but they seldom mention the good. About what they done to deserve them things. I don't recall that I ever give the good Lord all that much cause to smile on me. But he did.
- It had already occurred to him that he would probably never be safe again in his life and he wondered if that was something that you got used to. And if you did?
- I’ll tell you somethin, Sheriff. Nineteen is old enough to know that if you have got somethin that means the world to you it’s all that more likely it’ll get took away. Sixteen was, for that matter. I think about that
- It takes very little to govern good people. Very little. And bad people cant be governed at all. Or if they could I never heard of it.
- Every moment in your life is a turning and every one a choosing. Somewhere you made a choice. All followed to this. The accounting is scrupulous. The shape is drawn. No line can be erased. I had no belief in your ability to move a coin to your bidding. How could you? A person's path through the world seldom changes and even more seldom will it change abruptly. And the shape of your path was visible from the beginning.
- It's not about knowin where you are. It's about thinkin you got there without takin anything with you. Your notions about startin over. Or anybody's. You dont start over. That's what it's about. Every step you take is forever. You cant make it go away. None of it.
- You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it's made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I dont know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who's layin there?
- Well, I guess in all honesty I would have to say that I never knew nor did I ever hear of anybody that money didnt change.
- If it ain't a mess, it'll do till the mess gets here.
- Getting hurt changed me, he said. Changed my perspective. I've moved on, in a way. Some things have fallen into place that were not there before. I thought they were, but they werent. The best way I can put it is that I've sort of caught up with myself. That's not a bad thing. It was overdue.
- Somewhere in the world is the most invincible man. Just as somewhere is the most vulnerable.
- My daddy always told me to just do the best you knew how and tell the truth. He said there was nothin to set a man's mind at ease like wakin up in the morning and not havin to decide who you were.
- I think the truth is always simple. It has pretty much got to be. It needs to be simple enough for a child to understand. Otherwise it'd be too late. By the time you figured it out it would be too late.
- If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?
- He (Wells) closed his eyes and he turned his head and he raised one hand to fend away what could not be fended away. Chigurh shot him in the face. Everything that Wells had ever known or thought or loved drained slowly down the wall behind him. His mother's face, his First Communion, women he had known. The faces of men as they died on their knees before him. The body of a child dead in a roadside ravine in another country.
- [H]e knew that fear of an enemy can often blind men to other hazards, not least the shape which they themselves make in the world.
- The prospect of outsized profits leads people to exaggerate their own capabilities. In their minds. They pretend to themselves that they are in control of events where perhaps they are not. And it is always one's stance upon uncertain ground that invites the attentions of one's enemies. Or discourages it.
- How to prevail over that which you refuse to acknowledge the existence of.
- 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 that I second say the world.
- I aint got all that many regrets. I could imagine lots of things that you might think would make a man happier. I think by the time you're grown you're as happy as you're goin to be. You'll have good times and bad times, but in the end you'll be about as happy as you was before. Or as unhappy. I've knowed people that just never did get the hang of it.
- All the time you spend tryin to get back what's been took from you there's more goin out the door. After a while you just try and get a tourniquet on it.
- You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.
- I didnt know you could steal your own life. And I didnt know that it would bring you no more benefit than about anything else you might steal.
- It's a life's work to see yourself for what you really are and even then you might be wrong.
- I don't aim to quit while I'm ahead. I just aim to quit.
- [W]hen you encounter certain things in the world, the evidence for certain things, you realize that you have come upon somethin that you may very well not be equal to and I think that this is one of them things. When you've said that it's real and not just in your head I'm not all that sure what it is you have said.
- There is no description of a fool, he said, that you fail to satisfy.