Temptation is the Devil.
Every day we meet new people of all walks of life although these people are different they can each have similar traits. Similarly, characters in different pieces of literature have traits that resemble those of other characters in other pieces. In analyzing No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy and Paradise Lost by John Milton we find characters in both stories who have personality traits in common. No Country for Old Men, is a novel in which we witness a man named Llewellyn Moss being pursued by a psychopathic killer named Chigurh. This begins when Llewellyn decides to take a case full of money that is associated with a drug trade gone wrong. We follow Llewellyn and his wife Carla Jean as they head west separately in order to avoid being caught together. However, in the end Chigurh obtains and returns the case to the original owners after killing Llewellyn and the proceeds to kill Carla Jean. The classic epic, Paradise Lost by John Milton, tells the story of Lucifer’s transition to becoming Satan. While following his transformation we are also brought along for the downfall of Adam and Eve through sin.
Chigurh from No Country for Old Men and Satan from Paradise Lost are similar through their fatal flaw. They both believe that they need to do certain things in order for the world to be complete. Chigurh struggles with this due to his belief in determinism whereas, Satan struggles with his ego. Similarly, Llewellyn and Eve struggle with their own fatal flaws of avoiding temptation. For both of these characters once they fail to avoid their temptations they both are faced with consequences. Lastly, I intend to compare the relationship between Carla Jean & Llewellyn to Adam & Eve.
Throughout both stories motivation is found in both Chigurh and Satan. For Chigurh we can notice that his belief in determinism is his drive towards not only tracking down Llewellyn as well as killing Carla Jean. In comparison, Satan’s ego is his motivation in bringing evil to the world. Chigurh’s motivation towards returning the case that Llewellyn has taken to the original owners is his strong belief in determinism. Moreover, this is also his motivation for making good on his promise to Llewellyn to kill Carla Jean if Llewellyn ignored his demand to take him the case. When Chigurh finds Carla Jean after her mother’s funeral, he tells her that he is going to kill her. However, she begins to argue that he does not have to kill her and that it is only up to him, to which he responds,
“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” (McCarthy 261).
Here we can see that Chigurh truly believes there is only one way this can end. Throughout the novel Chigurh is determined not to leave until he does everything he feels he needs to do, in this case it is killing Carla Jean.
When we look at Satan in comparison, although he and Chigurh are motivated to accomplish their goals, they have different reasons for doing so. While Chigurh is motivated by his belief in determination we can see that Satan is motivated by his ego. When Satan first arrives in Hell he decides that this is where he would rather be,
“ Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n” (Milton Book I 261–263).
Throughout the novel we can see that Satan is determined to get his revenge on God. At one point he blames God for making him so powerful to begin with and giving the ambition to be better.
Through looking at Satan and Chigurh through their motivations I related the song Change by Taylor Swift.
Because these things will change Can you feel it now? These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down This revolution, the time will come For us to finally win And we’ll sing hallelujah
I made the connection between both characters in this song simply because of these lyrics especially this verse. I made this connection with Satan simply because he was sent and locked up in Hell and still managed to escape. Especially the line, “The walls they put up to hold us back will fall down”. Whereas this verse in relation to Chigurh is representative of how he feels he must make things right, or his belief in determinism. This can be found in the first line “ Because these things will change” and the last lines “This revolution, the time will come For us to finally win”. Although, both Satan and Chigurh have different reasons behind their motivations, they are both extremely determined to reach their goals.
Llewellyn Moss from No Country for Old Men and Eve from Paradise Lost are also similar in the way that they both fall for temptation and bring down those around them. In No Country for Old Men, Llewellyn finds a satchel full of money and decides to take it. Along this journey, he comes across Chigurh who is trying to retrieve the satchel to return it to its’ rightful owners. When Llewellyn decides to ignore this and flee West he eventually only gets himself and his wife Carla Jean killed. Similarly, Eve is tempted by Satan to simply taste the forbidden fruit. After doing so, in order to save herself, she then begins to tempt Adam to taste he fruit as well. When Llewellyn first comes across the crime scene, he looks around to determine what happened. Then when he realizes that there must have been a “last man standing” he begins to look for him. After walking through the desert he comes across a man under a tree. Here is where he finds the satchel,
“He didnt know what it added up to but he had a pretty good idea. He sat there looking at it and then he closed the flap and sat with his head down. His whole life was sitting there in front of him. Day after day from dawn till dark until he was dead. All of it cooked down into forty pounds of paper in a satchel.” (McCarthy 18).
When Llewellyn finds himself in the face of temptation he is unable to stop himself from taking the satchel. Simply due to the idea that the rest of his life will be taken care of with this money he has come across. However, when he later returns to the scene he realizes that people are after him for taking the money and decides to run. Ultimately, Llewellyn is killed by Chigurh for not returning the money. Here is where we can find a difference between Llewellyn and Eve. Whereas Llewellyn is not remorseful for his actions, Eve repents for her sins. Eve is initially tempted in a dream but does not succumb to her temptations until meeting Satan. In book nine of Paradise Lost, Eve and Adam separate to get more work done knowing she will be made a target. When Satan finds her alone, he decides to use his words to tempt her. Later, when Eve tastes the forbidden fruit she begins to describe her experience and newfound knowledge,
“Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck’d, she ate; … Intent now wholly on her taste, nought else Regarded, such delight till then, as seem’d In fruit she never tasted, whether true Or fancied so, through expectation so high” (Milton Book IX 786–789).
Here we can see, Eve is exaggerating as to how the fruit ha benefit her. She feels as though she has never experienced anything as great as this knowledge.
I related both Llewellyn’s and Eve’s temptations to the song “Can’t Control Myself” by the Ramones.
You hold me so with this quick temptation This kind of feeling could move a nation And I’m okay when I’m here with you I do the things that you want me to But do these things for no one else ’cause when I’m with you I can’t control myself
For Llewellyn the temptation is the money. He can not seem to control himself and leave the money where he found it but rather take it and run. In comparison, Eve’s temptation is Satan and gaining further knowledge of her existence. She is unable to control herself and later becomes the tempter.
I n reading both stories, I noticed many similarities between the relationship between Carla Jean and Llewellyn Moss and that of Adam and Eve. The one that stood out to me most however, was the idea of splitting up in order to survive. In No Country for Old Men we see Llewellyn send Carla Jean to Odessa on a bus while he drives towards the west. In Paradise Lost, we see Eve decide that she and Adam should split the work that needs to get done.
When Llewellyn realizes that others are looking for the satchel, he goes to tell Carla Jean that she will be going to her mother’s to wait for him to call her with more information.
“What’s goin on, Llewellyn? Here’s what’s going on, Carla Jean. You need to get your stuff packed and be ready to roll out of her come daylight. Whatever you leave you aint goin to see it again so if you want it dont leave it. There’s a bus leaves out of here at seven-fifteen in the mornin. I want you to go to Odessa and wait there till I can call you” ( McCarthy 49).
Here we see Llewellyn telling Carla Jean that she needs to head to Odessa on a bus while he simply heads West in order to not have them both be followed. However, Llewellyn does not disclose any of the information to Carla Jean. Whereas, Eve decides that she and Adam should split up in order to cover more ground.
“Let us divide our labours, thou where choice Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind The woodbine round this arbour, or direct The clasping ivy where to climb, while I In yonder spring of roses intermix’d”(Milton Book IX 214–218).
Here we see Eve telling Adam that it is more beneficial to both of them to divide work. Even though they both know someone is near to tempt them both as well as that she will be made the target. While Adam is not content with the idea of not being by her side, he decides it will be more efficient. Later, we see that Satan finds Eve and convinces her to taste the forbidden fruit.
In looking at the relationship through Carla Jean and Adam’s eyes I was able to make connections with the song FOOLS by Troye Sivan.
We’ve got differences and impulses and your obsession with The little things, you like stick, and I like aerosol I don’t give a fuck, I’m not giving up, I still want it all Only fools fall for you
In relation to Carla Jean, these lyrics are symbolic of how she feels by having Llewellyn keep information from her. The first line, “We’ve got differences and impulses and your obsession with The little things” is relevant in thinking of Llewellyn’s obsession with keeping the money. However, while looking at the line, “I’m not giving up, I still want it all Only Fools fall for you” is representative of both Carla Jean and Adam. This is because even with the trouble Llewellyn and Eve have caused they still care for them even while realizing it is not beneficial for them.
I n looking at the characters in No Country for Old Men in comparison to those in Paradise Lost, I noticed many similarities in their personalities. The similarities between Chigurh and Satan are that of their determination towards reaching their goals. Chigurh’s motivation is brought on by his belief in determination whereas, Satan’s is simply to spite God. Similarly, Llewellyn and Eve are unable to avoid their temptations which leads to facing consequences. After Llewellyn finds the satchel full of money he pictures the rest of his life with this money he decides to take it. Eve on the other hand is tempted by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit and succumbs to this temptation. Lastly, the relationship between Llewellyn and Carla Jean is comparable to that of Adam and Eve. Although this is due to many reasons, the one I found most interesting was their ultimate decision to split up in order to accomplish more. While these characters in comparison came from different pieces of literature, they had similar traits that allowed comparison.