No Country for Old Men

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No Country for Old Men Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Bell reflects on his relationship with Loretta, noting that she is more spiritual than he is. For a long time, he thought being older than her meant she would learn from him, but he is beginning to see the opposite is true. He considers the power of money. He notes there are fortunes being made that this nation’s people don’t even know about, fortunes that can buy whole countries, but end up putting a person in bed with people they shouldn’t be in bed with. He notes that the drug trade isn’t even a law enforcement problem; people don’t just decide to do drugs for no reason.
Bell respects Loretta’s sense of ethics and morality. His recognition of her as more spiritual than him signifies a change in his character, a new humility he has gained through recent experiences. He has also begun to acknowledge the greed and corruption that exist on a large scale in American society. He notes that the drug problem and the greed involved cannot be fixed through incarceration, but must be addressed on a deeper level.
Themes
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Justice and Higher Law Theme Icon
Changing Times: Past, Present, and Future Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
Once, a reporter asked Bell why he let crime get so out of hand. He told her it starts when you begin to overlook bad manners, that it is a societal issue. He told her that there can’t be a drug trade without drug users, and drug users come from every walk of life. Bell asks Loretta if there is anything in the Book of Revelation about the kids with green hair and piercings. She comes up behind him and bites him in the ear, and he notes that she is young at heart, and he doesn’t know where he would be without her.
Bell believes that crime is the result of a society’s movement away from morality and strong values. He understands that this is not a law enforcement issue, but a cultural and societal issue. Bell continues to look toward God to explain what is happening in American society, but Loretta doesn’t answer him when he asks about Revelation. Her youthfulness counters Bells judgment of young people. Through the novel, Bell has worried about aging and moving into a future that he can’t navigate, but Loretta’s youthfulness gives him hope.
Themes
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Justice and Higher Law Theme Icon
Changing Times: Past, Present, and Future Theme Icon
On his last day at his job, Bell walks out of the courthouse for the last time. He feels sad, but there is another feeling he can’t quite identify. He knows he has felt it before, but not in a long time. He realizes the feeling is that of defeat, which is more bitter to him than death. He tells himself he needs to get over it.
Bell finally confronts his failure to bring justice to the situation. This failure compounds the guilt he feels around failing to save his men in WWII. His acceptance of his fate is shown through the fact that he does not change his mind, and sticks to his decision to retire.
Themes
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Justice and Higher Law Theme Icon
Changing Times: Past, Present, and Future Theme Icon