The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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The Green Mile: Part 2: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
For a while, tranquility returns to E block, except for a few instances when Percy harasses Delacroix. Paul, who has already had many conversations with Percy about his behavior, decides, as a last resort, to tell Percy that Brutal doesn’t like him and could potentially handle the matter in a more violent way. The implicit threat seems to work on Percy, who shows some fear and begins to behave.
Paul realizes that traditional dialogue does not affect Percy at all. With such a violent individual, only the threat of violence is sufficient to placate him. Paul’s deviation from his usual strategy of kindness and compassion highlights the desperate situation Percy has generated on E block. Paul’s decision recalls the restraining measures he usually uses only with violent inmates.
Themes
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
One night, the guards hear Delacroix laughing in his cell and, when Paul hears that Harry is laughing, too, he goes to Delacroix’s cell to see what is happening. Delacroix tells him that he has found a mouse—the same one that the guards used to call Steamboat Willy. Delacroix, who until then has spent his time on E block completely terrified, is suddenly filled with joy. He makes the mouse run over his body, claiming that he has taught it that trick, and announces that the mouse’s name—which he says the mouse has whispered in his ear—is Mr. Jingles. He asks Paul if he could find a box for the mouse.
The mouse appears at a moment when Delacroix—and the rest of E block—needs it the most. In this way, as Paul later realizes, the mouse’s arrival is not just a matter of chance timeliness, but a sign of the mouse’s underlying intentions—his knowledge that he would one day become Delacroix’s pet, to protect the inmate and make his life in prison easier.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
When Percy approaches, he surprises the guards by not behaving in an aggressive way. Percy merely asks if this is the same mouse that he chased to the restraint room, which the men confirm, and Paul notices unusual serenity in the man’s face. When Paul tells him that Delacroix wants a box for the mouse, Percy says he has seen a cigar box on Toot-Toot’s cart that could work. He offers to help Delacroix purchase it and fill it with cotton. When he leaves, Harry and Paul wonder what could explain Percy’s sudden lack of aggressiveness.
Percy’s sudden change in behavior is not just surprising—but, also, eerie and disconcerting. In light of all the cruel actions he has undertaken in the past, it is difficult to believe that Percy has experienced a real change of heart. Rather, it is likely that he is concealing his real emotions, hiding his violence and hatred behind a compassionate veil.
Themes
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Paul explains that he later discovered the reasons behind Percy’s behavior. Years later, at a dinner, when neither warden Moores nor Paul were working at the prison anymore, Hal told Paul that, around the same time as Mr. Jingles’s reappearance, Percy had been complaining to him about Paul and life on E block in general. To calm the young man and keep him from doing anything that could make Paul lose his job, he told Percy he would be put in charge of Delacroix’s execution, which succeeded in calming the young man.
Paul later understands that Percy’s behavior was indeed nothing other than the tranquility that comes from knowing that he will be able to seek revenge on his enemy. Percy secretly revels in the knowledge that he will be able to kill a fellow human being and watch him die on the electric chair. At the time, warden Moores was the only one who grasped the true extent of Percy’s cruelty, and the fact that the man draws pleasure from watching the harm he causes others.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
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