No Country for Old Men

The Bolt Gun Symbol Analysis

The Bolt Gun Symbol Icon
Chigurh’s bolt gun, his weapon of choice through the novel, works symbolically to depict his view of humanity and his philosophy of fate and human nature. Typically, the air powered bolt gun is utilized in slaughterhouses to quickly and effectively slaughter cattle. The fact that Chigurh uses the bolt gun to kill his victims speaks to his conception of human beings as no different than animals. Chigurh does not believe in the concept of the soul or the afterlife, so in his mind, humans are no different than any other organism. The bolt gun was also developed as a tool that limits the chances of mistake in the slaughter of cattle. In the old days, individuals would use sledgehammers to slaughter cattle, but this old method left plenty of room for error. Because Chigurh’s goal is to deliver death quickly and effectively without any room for error, the bolt gun provides the most effective means to carry out his mission. The bolt gun is also an immensely pragmatic tool Chigurh uses to gain entrance into homes, businesses, and motels. The practical nature of this tool works in line with Chigurh’s logic through the novel.
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The Bolt Gun Symbol Timeline in No Country for Old Men

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Bolt Gun appears in No Country for Old Men. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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
...Chigurh has an instrument that looks like an oxygen tank, but is connected to a bolt gun like the ones used to kill livestock in slaughterhouses. The deputy says he’s “Got it... (full context)
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Justice and Higher Law Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
...leaving his wallet on the floor. Before he leaves, he grabs his air tank and bolt gun . (full context)
Fate, Chance, and Free Will Theme Icon
Justice and Higher Law Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
...free hand on the man’s head “like a faith healer”, and kills him with the bolt gun . Before leaving, Chigurh tells the dead man he just didn’t want to get blood... (full context)
Chapter 2
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
...man’s head looks as if it came from a .45. They don’t know about Chigurh’s bolt gun yet. They talk about the next move. Bell tells Torbert to take the police cruiser... (full context)
Chapter 3
Justice and Higher Law Theme Icon
Changing Times: Past, Present, and Future Theme Icon
...about the man Chigurh murdered for his car. They still do not know about Chigurh’s bolt gun , so Bell asks what he the man shot with. Torbert tells him they don’t... (full context)
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Justice and Higher Law Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
...trailer. He knocks on the door, waits, and when no answer comes, he uses the bolt gun to knock the lock cylinder out of the doorknob. Inside, he walks through the house,... (full context)
Chapter 4
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Fate, Chance, and Free Will Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
...makes a mental note of the room’s dimensions. He gets his boots on, grabs his bolt gun and goes back. Using the bolt gun, he punches out the lock cylinder and kicks... (full context)
Philosophy, Morality, and Ethics Theme Icon
Changing Times: Past, Present, and Future Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
...in the head with a maul. Bell explains that nowadays, they have an air powered bolt gun they use to shoot the cows between the eyes. Torbert says he wishes Bell hadn’t... (full context)
Chapter 5
Fate, Chance, and Free Will Theme Icon
Justice and Higher Law Theme Icon
Changing Times: Past, Present, and Future Theme Icon
...brain with a Black and Decker. Bell tells him that’s pretty close, referring to Chigurh’s bolt gun . (full context)
Chapter 8
Fate, Chance, and Free Will Theme Icon
Justice and Higher Law Theme Icon
Corruption, Greed, and Power Theme Icon
...Chigurh is waiting. He finds the cylinder Chigurh knocked out of the doorknob with his bolt gun . Bell takes his pistol from its holster and says he doesn’t know what is... (full context)