The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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The Green Mile: Part 1: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Months later, long after these events have passed and Percy has already left the prison for Briar Ridge, Brutal calls Paul saying he has found the spot where Mr. Jingles was staying when they first saw him. In the restraint room, Brutal makes Paul climb up on a ladder and, at the intersection of two roof beams, Paul notices a quarter-sized hole he thinks the mouse must have crawled through. Brutal tells Paul not only to look at it but to smell it. When he does so, Paul recognizes the distinct smell of peppermint.
Brutal’s continued search for Mr. Jingles demonstrates his persistent sense of awe for this mysterious being, and his desire to make sense of what has happened for himself. The fact that he does end up finding Mr. Jingles’s abode does not diminish the mouse’s divine aura, but only confirms the improbability of the mouse’s entrance into the prison, through such a small hole. It heightens the mystery of why the mouse chose to come there in the first place.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Paul recalls how, a few moments before Delacroix’s execution, he promised Delacroix to protect his mouse. He notes that, in fact, he always promised to honor the inmates’ final wishes, however improbable they might be, so that they might retain their sanity as they prepare for their death. Paul makes a few eerie, mysterious comments about Delacroix’s horrible death, concluding that no one should have had to endure such a violent execution.
Paul prizes showing compassion to prisoners above any sense of moral obligation not to lie. His promises to condemned prisoners are meant to protect both the inmates and himself, as they ensure that the execution will go smoothly and no one will be harmed. Paul’s recollection of Delacroix’s death mysteriously signals his guilt at not being able to control what happened to the prisoner.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Inside the mouse’s hole, Paul also finds little colored splinters of wood, which have been colored with wax Crayola crayons. Brutal and Paul realize that the mouse saved pieces of Delacroix’s colored spool in order to remember him after his death. While both guards think about this situation and Delacroix’s death, Brutal confesses that he cannot work as a guard anymore, for he cannot stand the idea of killing yet another man on the electric chair. Paul admits that he, too, like Brutal, might apply to transfer. As Paul notes retrospectively, the men’s decision ultimately came true. Neither of them took part in another execution after John Coffey’s.
It becomes clear that Mr. Jingles is capable of the human-like qualities of love and remembrance, as his affectionate commitment to Delacroix extends beyond the inmate’s death. Proof of this affection only highlights the deep injustice of Delacroix’s death—and the injustice of executing people in general, for everyone is worthy of love and caring, however horrible one’s past crimes may be. Both Paul and Brutal agree that they can no longer bear this moral burden by participating in executions.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon