Best quotes from No Country for Old Men

By Cormac McCarthy

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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?

How does a man decide in what order to abandon his life?

You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday don't 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.

What business is it of yours where I'm from, friendo?

He shook his head. You're asking that I make myself vulnerable and that I can never do. I have only one way to live. It doesn't allow for special cases. A coin toss perhaps. In this case to small purpose. Most people don't believe that there can be such a person. You see what a problem that must be for them. How to prevail over that which you refuse to acknowledge the existence of. Do you understand? 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 there 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. Do you see?
Yes, she said sobbing. I do. I truly do.
Good, he said. That's good. Then he shot her.

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.

She smiled. I think it's just the snow. I think it makes people stop and think.
Bell nodded. I hope it comes a blizzard then.

Ever step you take is forever. You cant make it go away. None of it. You understand what I'm sayin?

He looked like he was studying something small in the grass.

You keep runnin that mouth and I'm goin to take you back there and screw you.

I dont know what I ever done, she said. I truly dont.
Chigurh nodded. Probably you do, he said. There's a reason for everything.
She shook her head. How many times I've said them very words. I wont again.

And in the dream I knew that he was goin on ahead and that he was fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. And then I woke up.

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.

I always thought when I got older that God would sort of come into my life in some way. He didn't.

He said I was bein hard on myself. Said it was a sign of old age. Tryin to set things right. I guess there's some truth to that. But it aint the whole truth. I agreed with him that there wasnt a whole lot good you could say about old age and he said he knew one thing and I said what is that. And he said it dont last long. I waited for him to smile but he didn't. I said well, that's pretty cold. And he said it was no colder than what the facts called for. So that was all there was about that.

I got here the same way the coin did.

Do you have any notion of how goddamned crazy you are?

Somewhere out there is a true and living prophet of destruction and I dont want to confront him. I know he's real. I have seen his work. I walked in front of those eyes once. I wont do it again. I wont push my chips forward and stand up and go out to meet him. It aint just bein older. I wish that it was. I cant say that it's even what you are willin to do. Because I always knew that you had to be willin to die to even do this job. That was always true. Not to sound glorious about it or nothin but you do. If you aint they'll know it. They'll see it in a heartbeat. I think it is more like what you are willin to become. And I think a man would have to put his soul at hazard. And I wont do that.

Somewhere in the world is the most invincible man. Just as somewhere is the most vulnerable.

Best way to live in California is to be from somewheres else.

He didn't say a lot so I tend to
remember what he did say. And I don't remember that he had a lot of patience with havin to say things twice so I learned to listen the first time.

I have no enemies. I dont permit such a thing.

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.

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.

You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.

I always thought when I got older that God would sort of come into my life in some way. He didn't. I don't blame him. If I was him I'd have the same opinion about me that he does.

You can tell it any way you want but that's the way it is. I should of done it and I didn’t. And some part of me has never quit wishin I could go back. And I cant. I didn’t know you could steal your own life. And I didn’t know that it would bring you no more benefit than about anything else you might steal. I think I done the best with it I knew how but it still wasn’t mine. It never has been.

I tried to put things in perspective but sometimes you're just too close to it.

Dope.
They sell that shit to schoolkids.
It's worse than that.
How's that?
Schoolkids buy it.

For things at a common destination there is a common path. Not always easy to see. But there.

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.

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.

I think if you were Satan and you were settin around tryin to think up somethin that would just bring the human race to its knees what you would probably come up with is narcotics.

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

People don't pay attention. And then one day there's an accounting. And after that, nothing is the same.

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

It's not about knowing who 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 can't make it go away. None of it.

Nothin wounded goes uphill, he said. It just dont happen.

But I didn't know what to say to him. What do you say to a man that by his own admission has no soul? Why would you say anything?

It is community and respect, of course, but the dead have more claims on you than what you might want to admit or even what you might know about and them claims can be very strong indeed. Very strong indeed.

you fix what you can fix and you let the rest go. If there ain't nothin to be done about it it aint even a problem. It's just a aggravation.

I had two dreams about him after he died. I dont remember the first one all that well but it was about meetin him in town somewheres and he give me some money and I think I lost it. But the second one it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin through the mountains of a night. Goin through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin. Never said nothin. He just rode on past and he had this blanket wrapped around him and he had his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. About the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin on ahead and that he was fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. And then I woke up.

But this man had set down with a hammer and chisel and carved out a stone water trough to last ten thousand years. Why was that? What was it that he had faith in? It wasn't that nothin' would change. Which is what you might think, I suppose. He had to know better'n that. I've thought about it a good deal. . . And I have to say that the only thing I can think is that there was some sort of promise in his heart. And I don't have no intentions of carvin' a stone water trough. But I would like to be able to make that kind of promise. I think that's what I would like most of all.

If you dont respect me what must you think of yourself?

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. And if you done somethin wrong just stand up and say you done it and say you’re sorry and get on with it. Don’t haul stuff around with you.

You always pay too much. Particularly for promises. There aint no such thing as a bargain promise.

I think if you were Satan and you were settin around tryin to think up somethin that would just bring the human race to its knees what you would probably come up with is narcotics. Maybe he did. I told that to somebody at breakfast the other mornin and they asked me if I believed in Satan...I had to think about that. I guess as a boy I did. Come the middle years my belief had waned somewhat. Now I'm startin to lean back the other way. He explains a lot of things that otherwise dont have no explanation. Or not to me they dont.

Here a year or two back me and Loretta went to a conference...I got set next to this woman...she kept talkin about the right wing this and the right wing that. I aint even sure what she meant by it...She kept on, kept on. Finally told me, said: I dont like the way this country is headed. I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion. And I said well mam I dont think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin I dont have much doubt but what she'll be able to have an abortion. I'm goin to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she'll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation.

I read in the papers here a while back some teachers came across a survey that was sent out back in the thirties to a number of schools around the country. Had this questionnaire about what was the problems with teachin in the schools. And they come across these forms, they'd been filled out and sent in from around the country answerin these questions. And the biggest problems they could name was things like talkin in class and runnin in the hallways. Chewin gum. Copyin homework. Things of that nature. So they got one of them forms that was blank and printed up a bunch of em and sent em back out to the same schools. Forty years later. Well, here come the answers back. Rape, arson, murder. Drugs. Suicide. So think about that. Because a lot of the time when I say anything about how the world is goin to hell in a handbasket people will just sort of smile and tell me I'm gettin old. That it's one of the symptoms. But my feelin about that is that anybody that cant tell the difference between rapin and murderin people and chewin gum has got a whole lot bigger of a problem than what I've got. Forty years is not a long time neither. Maybe the next forty of it will bring some of em out from under the ether. If it aint too late.

People will tell you it was Vietnam brought this country to its knees. But I never believed that. It was already in bad shape. Vietnam was just the icin on the cake. We didn't have nothin to give to em to take over there. If we'd sent em without rifles I dont know as they'd of been all that much worse off. You can't go to war like that. You cant go to war without God. I dont know what is goin to happen when the next one comes. I surely dont.

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