The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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The Green Mile: Part 1: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Paul calls Delacroix’s mouse one of God’s mysteries. He recounts the first time the mouse appeared on E block. From the hall, Brutal had called Dean and Paul, who were in Paul’s office, with an urgent voice. As the two men come running in, thinking some disaster has happened, they see a furry green mouse walking along the Green Mile, looking into each cell like a guard. The three guards laugh—an unusual occurrence on the severe, gloomy E block—and Paul notices that the mouse’s eyes look unusually intelligent. When the mouse stops at the guards’ desk, Paul feels a cold chill run through his body, for he suddenly feels the roles have been reversed—that this mouse is a guard, and he a prisoner.
The exceptional arrival of the mouse on E block interrupts the ordinary routine of prison life. Paul immediately senses that this mouse has supernatural powers of some kind, as he feels suddenly trapped by the mouse’s presence. His feeling that roles have been reversed suggests that the mouse is invisibly greater than it appears. The mouse strikes Paul as an external, unusually wise observer reminding mankind that his life is controlled by His will.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Dean wants to get rid of the mouse with a broom but Paul, wanting to save the mouse, stops him. Curious to discover what will happen, Brutal gives the mouse a piece of his corned-beef sandwich. For the next few seconds, the men watch, fascinated, as the mouse eats it like a human being—sniffing it, sitting up, and deliberately pulling the bread away to eat the meat. After turning toward the men’s faces again, as though trying to remember them, the mouse finally leaves, slipping underneath the door of the restraint room (which doubles as a storage room when no violent prisoners are being punished there).
Paul instinctively feels that the mouse is not an ordinary rodent, but that it should be saved and protected. The men’s surprise at realizing that the mouse has a secret intelligence prefigures the surprise they will feel at discovering John Coffey’s secret. The guards prove capable of faith and trust in the existence of forms of intelligence beyond human understanding—in other words, of the presence of the divine amidst the everyday.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Brutal opens the “Visitors” book and records the mouse’s appearance, calling it “Steamboat Willy,” a reference to Mickey Mouse. Paul laughs, but Dean says Brutal is going to get into trouble for that, since Percy could get Brutal fired for putting jokes in the Visitors book. Though he is annoyed by Dean’s comments, Paul nevertheless concludes that he is right and that, if Brutal doesn’t erase the entry, he himself will do so in order to save his colleague’s job.
Brutal’s action is both a joke and a serious recognition that this mouse’s appearance is an important event, worthy of being recorded. Faced with the threat of Percy’s retaliation, the men become bound by a shared secret about the mouse’s appearance—joined by their shared fascination and awe at what they have witnessed.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
The next night, Brutal and Paul search for Steamboat Willy in the restraint room but are unable to find him. They see no cracks or holes big enough for the mouse to fit in and do not understand how it could possibly have gotten into the prison. Three nights later, however, the mouse appears again, this time during Harry and Percy’s shift. Moved by rage and violence, Percy chases the mouse down the Green Mile and swears he is going to kill him. However, after emptying the restraint room again—like Brutal and Paul had done a few days earlier—he, too, fails to find the mouse.
Brutal and Paul’s inability to find any trace of the mouse seems to confirm the mouse’s supernatural nature. Percy’s attitude toward the mouse marks him as a faithless person, incapable of recognizing the value of this supernatural being. He is moved by purely mundane motives, unable to grasp that there exists a realm beyond human understanding that is deserving of awe and respect.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
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