No Country for Old Men

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Carson Wells Character Analysis

A Vietnam veteran and hit man, Carson Wells is hired to track down Chigurh and find the missing briefcase. Wells has worked with Chigurh in the past and understands the danger Moss is in. He finds Moss in the hospital in Mexico, and attempts to convince Moss to work with him to return the money to its rightful owner. Wells is a confident man, which ultimately leads to his demise. He does not take into consideration the role of chance and bad luck in an individual’s fate, elements of life that Chigurh is very aware of, and is overpowered by Chigurh. In the end, before Chigurh kills him, he struggles to accept his fate. Ultimately, his oversights and false sense of self-confidence lead to his death.

Carson Wells Quotes in No Country for Old Men

The No Country for Old Men quotes below are all either spoken by Carson Wells or refer to Carson Wells . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of No Country for Old Men published in 2006.
Chapter 5 Quotes

You can’t make a deal with him. Let me say it again. Even if you gave him the money he’d still kill you. There’s no one alive on this planet that’s ever had even a cross word with him. They’re all dead. These are not good odds. He’s a peculiar man. You could even say that he has principals. Principals that transcend money or drugs or anything like that.

Related Characters: Carson Wells (speaker), Llewellyn Moss
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Carson Wells--a criminal and negotiator--tries to tell Llewellyn the truth about his situation. Wells knows that Moss is even now being hunted by Anton Chigurh, and he tells Moss that there's nothing he can do to escape Chigurh's vengeance. Moss cockily claims that he can "cut a deal" with Chigurh, but Moss disagrees: Chigurh doesn't bargain with his enemies--he tracks them down and kills them.

The passage helps us understand what kind of man Chigurh is. Moss--who trusts that money can buy anything--thinks that he can always pay off Chigurh in return for protection. But Chigurh isn't a regular human being--he doesn't let his short-term need for money distract him. Once Chigurh has decided to kill a man, nothing can distract him from his goal--not even the offer of millions of dollars.

The irony of Wells's speech is that Chigurh comes off as being much more "principled" than either Wells or Moss. Where Moss trusts that money is the ultimate source of power, Chigurh appeals to a higher set of rules. What, exactly, these rules are is unclear. And yet, peculiarly, Chigurh's refusal to be "bought" is what makes him stand out from the rest of society.

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Chapter 6 Quotes

If the rule you followed led you to this of what use was the rule?

Related Characters: Anton Chigurh (speaker), Carson Wells
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Anton Chigurh tracks down Carson Wells and prepares to murder him. Before he kills Wells, Chigurh taunts his victim. He wants to know: if the "rules" by which Wells lived his life brought him to this point (i.e., brought him to be murdered by Chigurh), what was the point of following the rules?

Chigurh's question is more profound than it might seem. As Chigurh sees it, the only reason to live according to a moral "code" (a religion, a philosophy, etc.) is that the code brings you some kind of success. There's no point in being, say, a Christian, if your Christian beliefs lead you to death. In short, Chigurh sneers at all of society's values and laws. Where most human beings delude themselves into following useless rules, Chigurh follows his own religion--the religion of random chance--and breaks all other rules.

You’ve been giving up things for years to get here. I dont think I even understood that. How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life? We’re in the same line of work. Up to a point. Did you hold me in such contempt? Why would you do that? How did you let yourself get in this situation?

Related Characters: Anton Chigurh (speaker), Carson Wells
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:

In this complex scene, Anton Chigurh continues to talk to Carson Wells before murdering him. Chigurh makes a complicated, contradictory point, simultaneously distinguishing himself from Carson and identifying with him.

Chigurh criticizes Wells for living his life according to other people's rules. Wells obeys his bosses, and--crucially--he "worships" money. Chigurh, by contrast, seems not to care about money or authority--he's "his own boss," and can't be bought or paid off. In the end, Chigurh claims, Wells's love for money has been utterly futile--his love hasn't led to wealth or prosperity; it's led to his death at Chigurh's hands.

And yet Chigurh insists that he and Wells are alike, "up to a point." Both Chigurh and Wells would be considered criminals by society's standards. But according to Chigurh, Wells doesn't go far enough in rejecting conventional law and order. Wells breaks the law all the time, but he's allowed himself to be controlled by money--the ultimate symbol of society. Chigurh, by contrast, is totally amoral and totally nihilistic. He doesn't let anyone or anything control what he does--even himself. Instead, he submits to random chance.

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Carson Wells Character Timeline in No Country for Old Men

The timeline below shows where the character Carson Wells appears in No Country for Old Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Changing Times: Past, Present, and Future Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
The narrative shifts to Carson Wells, a Vietnam veteran and hit man, as he goes up to the Matacumbe Petroleum Group... (full context)
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Changing Times: Past, Present, and Future Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
He gives Wells a credit card to cover his expenses. The man asks for Wells’ opinion Chigurh. Wells... (full context)
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Before Wells leaves, he tells the man that he counted the floors from the street, and there... (full context)
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Justice and Higher Law Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
Wells goes to the hotel in Eagle Pass and asks for a room. While he fills... (full context)
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Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
Wells goes to his room and falls asleep with his gun beside him. He wakes at... (full context)
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The next morning, Wells walks through the center of Eagle Pass taking mental notes of the crime scene, noticing... (full context)
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
Moss wakes up in a Mexican hospital and finds Wells sitting beside his bed holding a bouquet of flowers. Moss asks who he is, and... (full context)
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Moss tells Wells he looks like an idiot sitting there with the flowers. Wells puts them on the... (full context)
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
Wells asks Moss how he knows Chigurh is not on his way to Odessa to Kill... (full context)
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
Moss tells Wells he may just disappear. Wells tells him it only took three hours to find him,... (full context)
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
Moss asks Wells why he would even tell him about Chigurh. Wells says that he is hoping to... (full context)
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Changing Times: Past, Present, and Future Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
Wells asks Moss what he does for a living. Moss tells him he is retired, but... (full context)
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Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
Wells tells Moss that he works for people who won’t give up on finding the money.... (full context)
Chapter 6
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
The narrative moves to Wells as he examines the bridge that crosses the river into Mexico. He studies Moss’s blood... (full context)
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Justice and Higher Law Theme Icon
...unit on the windowsill. He then he goes back to the lobby to wait for Wells. (full context)
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Changing Times: Past, Present, and Future Theme Icon
Wells comes in at 11:13. Chigurh wraps his shotgun in a newspaper, and follows him upstairs.... (full context)
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Chigurh tells Wells getting shot by Moss changed his perspective. He speaks about an experience he had in... (full context)
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Wells asks Chigurh if he knows how crazy he is. Chigurh doesn’t answer, but asks Wells... (full context)
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Wells stares Chigurh down, and Chigurh asks if he thinks he can stall his death with... (full context)
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Wells asks Chigurh what time it is. Chigurh tells him it is 11:57, and Wells tells... (full context)
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From Mexico, Moss calls Carla Jean before calling Wells’ phone. Carla Jean’s grandmother answers, telling him she doesn’t want to talk to him. Carla... (full context)
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Moss calls Wells’ phone and Chigurh picks up. He tells Moss he needs to come see him. Chigurh... (full context)
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
...the hotel and see the tracking unit on the windowsill. They examine the scene, noting Wells’ death. The sheriff asks if there is something Bell isn’t telling him, but Bell says... (full context)
Chapter 7
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Fate, Chance, and Free Will  Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
...as he goes to the Matacumbe Petroleum Group office to kill the man who sent Wells after him. He climbs the steps to the seventeenth floor, and walks down the hallway,... (full context)