Ed Tom Bell
Bell has conservative views, and he comments on the changing mores of the times. He sees the people of Terrell County as a flock who need his protection. He is more interested in protecting people than chasing criminals. Bell is the only character who has an overview of the devastation Chigurh leaves behind. He also has enough experience with ordinary crime to recognize true evil in Chigurh.
Moss's father says the Vietnam war affected Moss: "They'd all done things over there that they'd just as soon left over there." Moss is a good shot and a good tactician, but chance and a bad decision set him on a collision course with Chigurh. He has foresight enough to know how much trouble the money will cause, but he is too impulsive to resist taking it.
Anton Chigurh is seen as a "prophet of destruction," and at times he verges on the supernatural: he is indifferent to pain and implacable in pursuit of his prey. But Chigurh is human; he can be injured, and he can be thwarted at gunpoint. His most puzzling quality is his belief system: he believes certain people are fated to die at his hands. So although he murders people, he views himself not as a compulsive killer but as the impersonal agent of fate.
Llewellyn Moss is a likable young man with a few flaws. He is full of self-confidence, is comfortable out in an isolated desert, and has a wife who loves him. Those are his strengths. But he is a tad bit too confident. And in the desert, with no one watching, he refuses a dying man a drink of water and steals a suitcase full of money. When he goes home to his loving wife, he is clipped in his dialogue with her, forcing her to trust him, which she probably should not do.
Because Moss has experience from Vietnam, he believes he is as tough as anyone else around. He thinks he can get away with the theft, even though he knows it is drug money. It takes a while for it to dawn on him that he is a man marked by death. There is no place for him to go, and his opponent is a man who does not stop until he has killed those who oppose him. Perhaps readers fall for Moss because he is flawed. Maybe they feel sorry for him, knowing that his simple flaws in the wrong situation will mean the end of him. But in the end, there is less reason to like Moss. As Chigurh points out, just before he kills Moss’s wife, Moss could have saved her. Moss could have given the money to Chigurh. But Moss refused.
McCarthy seems to have created the character of Moss as someone caught in between good and evil. Moss even might represent a younger version of Sheriff Bell, but just a bit more vulnerable. Both men had war experiences that shaped them. Whereas Bell was humiliated and humbled by his time in war, Moss seems to have come out in awe of himself. Maybe if Moss had loved his wife a little more or had a little more love of humanity, he would have lived a little longer. But Moss had a big dream. He wanted to be a little like Chigurh too.
Anton Chigurh, on the other hand, has nothing that makes him likable. Chigurh is evil itself. He kills for the pleasure of seeing people plead for their lives. Or he...
(The entire section is 784 words.)