Sheriff Bell is the main character in the film, “No Country for Old Men” which is a complex American thriller divided between 3 major characters. The film eludes celebration of violence and shock sensationalism while provoking considerable dissection on violence and a number of issues are raised. Sheriff Tom Bell’s perceptions and reflection shapes the whole film. It all start with Sheriff Bell given the voice of a narrator and the course of the film having narrative sequences finalizing with narrating dream to his wife; Loretta Bell. Bell is also featured in many scenes as in the development of story and the plot. Sheriff Bell is depicted to live in a city where evil has taken the business of the day. He is optimistic that he will avert the course of action in that society but he is on the way or retiring. For instance, William Luhr, part of film noir said, “Sheriff Bell feels that the evil surrounding him has metastasized beyond his comprehension and that he can no longer even pretend that he can deal productively with it.” Bell is third-generation Sheriff and his stoicism can barely manage to mask the disappointment at the wave of evil that seeps into the world.
Bell regards the society to have been taken over by nihilism and pessimism. In this case, pessimism refers to the state of mind whereby people anticipated undesirable outcomes and set their beliefs that hardship and evil overrides the good. Sheriff’s society features moral decadence and legal pessimism. Nihilism also got a better part of the day. In regard to this film, nihilism was a doctrine which made people negates putative meaningful aspect of life. To many, including Sheriff Bell, life lacked objective purpose, meaning and intrinsic value. Unending violence in the community inflicted the idea in minds of people that morality was inherently out of reality that any established values on morality are abstractly contrived. Additionally, the minds of the people in the society features epistemological nihilism implying that certain knowledge is impossible to attain and that reality does not exist. In other words, people regarded peace as a fantasy but not reality owing to the fact that violence could not be mitigated. The primary tension mainly focuses on Bell’s growth and understanding of the Chigurh’s degree of professionalism force and fanatical drive towards a choice of life of death by following him. Bells has to choose between confronting Cigurh and tracking him down or moving to execute his retirement plan.
Sheriff Bell is portrayed as a traditional hero. For instance, he relates this about his personality and life in the West; “I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty five [years old]. Hard to believe. Grandfather was a lawman. Father too ... You can't help but compare yourself against the old-timers. Can't help but wonder how they would've operated these times.” In this case, Bell accepts the fact that he is part of the tradition. Nonetheless, times changed in 1980 in 3 significant ways namely; the western frontier no longer features as the “Wild West” where the land is unsettled and unpopulated; dominated by power hungry tycoons and the legal order is about to be set and the modern West features another breed of lawlessness and ‘Wild West has been full tamed in a single aspect. He notes that the prevailing crime is immeasurable.” Thirdly, Bell is the Hero of the west but has become old. For instance, “Bell is no longer a young, twenty-five-years-old sheriff, ready and willing to act accordingly to his moral duties ... Instead, he is now weary and cautious:’... But I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard.” Despite the fact that the western front has been tamed in a way that settlement of towns and cities happened, a new kind of era prevails described as wildness spreading and ravaging the world. Bell laments over an ‘old-timers’ and is very confused on how to keep up with the new immoral wildfire.
The Sheriff comes to option of believing in intervention of Supreme Being outside the ordinary. It’s an expression of religion. Bell’s dream towards the end of the film illustrates a hope for redemption that exclude the normal way exhibited by mankind. Bells seems to have concluded that the evil marauding the society is unstoppable so he goes ahead to retire from the being a sheriff. The hopelessness regarding the ability of a man willingly face evil makes Bell to say to his uncle, “I always thought when I got older that God would sort of come into my life in some way. He didn't.” Absence of music, retirement of sheriff and confrontation between the evil and good may lead viewer to a conclusion that humans are unchangeably and ultimately evil. Nonetheless, Bells dream to his wife shows a glimmer of hope outside nihilism. In one instance, a prophetic old man is quoted saying to Bell, “You can't stop what's coming.” Bell never connected with that word of hope because of his pride in heritage of lawmen making in miserable and insufficient. “It ain't all waiting on you,” the man warned him. It further raises questions in the Mind of Bell regarding the existence of God and why he is hesitant to intervene and prevent prevalence of apocalyptic violence.
In conclusion, the film questions the current state of criminal violence which historically evolved from psychotic individuals to professional machines who are well financed. On more allegorical level, Bell’s life represents the life of those who find themselves along the battle line to conserve their lives and the obligated act.