The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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Burt Hammersmith Character Analysis

The man who reported on the case of the Detterick twins. Hammersmith believes that there is no doubt John Coffey is guilty of raping and killing the two nine-year-old girls, whatever his past history of crime may be. His underlying racism becomes apparent when he compares Coffey to a mongrel dog, explaining that some people are simply beholden animal instincts. He also refers to black people as “your Negroes” as though they are property (as they were during slavery). Paul considers Hammersmith’s attitude of white supremacy typical of the American South at that time.

Burt Hammersmith Quotes in The Green Mile

The The Green Mile quotes below are all either spoken by Burt Hammersmith or refer to Burt Hammersmith. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Pocket Books edition of The Green Mile published in 1996.
Part 3: Chapter 4 Quotes

Everyone—black as well as white—thinks it's going to be better over the next jump of land. It's the American damn way. Even a giant like Coffey doesn't get noticed everywhere he goes . . . until, that is, he decides to kill a couple of little girls. Little white girls.

Related Characters: Burt Hammersmith (speaker), Paul Edgecombe, John Coffey
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 5: Chapter 2 Quotes

Hammersmith who had told me that mongrel dogs and Negroes were about the same, that either might take a chomp out of you suddenly, and for no reason. Except he kept calling them your Negroes, as if they were still property . . . but not his property. No, not his. Never his. And at that time, the South was full of Hammersmiths.

Related Characters: Paul Edgecombe (speaker), John Coffey, Burt Hammersmith
Page Number: 335
Explanation and Analysis:
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Burt Hammersmith Character Timeline in The Green Mile

The timeline below shows where the character Burt Hammersmith appears in The Green Mile. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3: Chapter 4
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
The next day, Paul heads to Tefton, in Trapingus County, to look for Burt Hammersmith, the reporter who covered Coffey’s trial. He heads to the newspaper where the man works... (full context)
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
When Paul tells Hammersmith he has come to talk about Coffey, who spends most of his time calmly crying... (full context)
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
When Hammersmith finishes his story, he tries to figure out what exactly motivates Paul’s curiosity. Paul decides... (full context)
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Hammersmith asks if Paul has seen Coffey’s scars, a detail which was used during the trial... (full context)
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
To address Paul’s doubts about Coffey’s guilt, Hammersmith tells him the story of his own dog. He compares black people to mongrel dogs... (full context)
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
As Hammersmith is telling his story, his children begin to walk toward the house. Hammersmith calls to... (full context)
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Hammersmith explains that even though the dog knew the children since their birth and had never... (full context)
Part 5: Chapter 2
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Paul explains that no one thought of this at the trial. Paul remembers Hammersmith, who compared Negroes to mongrel dogs and referred to them as property. Paul notes that,... (full context)