While The Chief is executed according to plan, The Pres sees his death sentence commuted to life and is transferred to another section of the prison. He is murdered twelve years later in the prison’s laundry room. Paul reflects that, ironically, The Pres’s death would probably have been less painful on the electric chair. He wonders, knowing this, if the man’s twelve extra years were truly worth it. Harry, who believes that The Pres was only saved from the electric chair because he was white, describes the man’s murder in prison as a mere postponement of the execution that should have taken place.
The Pres’s murder in prison reinforces Paul and Harry’s belief in violent destiny—the idea that a condemned criminal cannot escape his violent fate, even if he manages to avoid the electric chair. It also reinforces Paul’s view of prison life as a mere postponement of death, suggesting that it might be better to accept execution instead of attempting to avoid it.
After a period of calm on E block, with The Chief and The Pres gone, one day Eduard Delacroix is sent to the Green Mile. In E block, Paul, who is waiting on the new inmate’s cell’s bed for him to arrive, suddenly hears a loud bang and Percy shouting insults, calling Delacroix a “faggot.” Paul jumps up and sees Percy violently drag Delacroix inside. When Percy begins to hit the prisoner with his baton, Paul tries to step in between the two men and, after a few seconds of struggle, ultimately manages to shove Delacroix into his cell, but it is only once Brutal grabs Percy by the shoulders that the beating stops. Percy looks a bit scared at Brutal’s appearance, but his face reveals that he still believes his connections will protect him.
Once again, Percy brings violent trouble to E block. His insults toward Delacroix show that, in addition to being racist, he is also homophobic. Percy’s failure to react to Paul’s intervention suggests that he believes himself powerful enough to bypass any authority. His trust in his political connections’ protection reveals that, until now, the system has worked in his favor, enabling him to get away with otherwise unacceptable behavior. In this way, King shows the power structure that underpins the society he depicts to be corrupt and immoral.
When Paul angrily asks Percy for an explanation, saying that this type of behavior is unacceptable on E block, Percy says that Delacroix tried to touch his penis and that he was punishing him for it. Paul looks at Percy in disbelief and sends him away, saying he will not write a report about what happened.
Paul does not believe Percy’s explanation, sensing that the guard’s violence was a mere fit of anger. Even if what Percy has said were true, Paul would never agree with this mode of punishment, which only breeds further anger and instability among inmates. His decision not to write a report does, however, demonstrate that Percy can indeed get away with unacceptable behavior, thanks to his political connections.
Paul goes to Delacroix’s cell to give him his usual speech about life in prison, but the new prisoner spends the whole time crying. After this, Paul goes to talk to Brutal and Brutal expresses his anger and disbelief at what has just happened with Percy. Paul asks for an explanation, and Brutal says that Delacroix never meant to touch Percy, but that Percy was dragging him so fast out of the car that Delacroix, chained, accidentally brushed Percy’s pants when he tried to keep himself from falling. Paul and Brutal conclude that Percy’s outburst of violence was probably meant to demonstrate his authority and scare the new prisoner into submission.
Brutal and Paul’s lucidity about Percy’s lack of reasonable motives to beat Delacroix reveals their understanding of Percy as an inherently cruel being, incapable of ordinary logic, respect, and compassion—and of listening to anything but his own base impulses.
Paul and Brutal both admit that they hate Percy. After reflecting on it, Brutal tells Paul that he doesn’t understand why Percy, who can use his political connections to find much better jobs, never looked for a more comfortable job than this. Paul says he doesn’t know—but, in retrospect, he considers himself naïve.
Brutal’s question and Paul’s confession of ignorance signals that neither of them yet understands the true extent of Percy’s cruelty—the fact that Percy enjoys the atmosphere of violence that he is exposed to on the Green Mile and, in particular, the opportunity to participate in an execution.