The Only Hope in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men

“Where you went out the back door of that house there was a stone water trough in the weeds by the side of the house. A galvanized pipe come off the roof and the trough stayed pretty much full and I remember stopping there one time and squattin down and looking at it and I got to thinking about it. I don’t know how long it had been there. A hundred years. Two hundred. You could see the chisel marks in the stone. It was hewed out of solid rock and it was about six foot long and maybe a foot and a half wide and about that deep. Just chiseled out of the rock. And I got to thinking about the man that done that. That country had not had a time of peace much of any length at all that I knew of. I’ve read a little of the history of it since and I aint sure it ever had one. 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 nothing would change. Which is what you might think, I suppose. He had to know better than that. I’ve thought about it a good deal. I thought about it after I left there with that house blown to pieces. I’m goin to say that water trough is there yet. It would of took something to move it, I can tell you that. So I think about him settin there with his hammer and his chisel, maybe just a hour or two after supper, I don’t know. 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.”

-Sheriff Bell, from “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy

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