The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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The Green Mile: Part 4: Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After Percy crushes Mr. Jingles, Dean angrily shouts at him, asking him what he has done, and Percy walks away. In his cell, Wharton laughs heartily, saying that Percy has taught Delacroix a lesson for making fun of him earlier. While Delacroix is crying and the guards, distraught, do not know what to do, Coffey’s voice rises from behind them, compelling them to give him the mouse.
Instead of bringing peace and justice, Percy’s harsh punishment of Delacroix only breeds greater chaos, anger, and humiliation to E block. On a greater scale, this suggests that violent punishment for misbehavior—such as the use of the electric chair itself—never actually heals the harm derived from the original misdeed.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Paul remembers what Coffey did to his urinary infection and decides to pick up Mr. Jingles’s broken body. Brutal objects, but Paul tells him to keep quiet. He places Mr. Jingles in Coffey’s hands, where Coffey holds the mouse’s quivering body and soon closes both hands over it so that only the tail is sticking out. Suddenly, he breathes in sharply inside his hands and a look of deep suffering appears on his face. After a few seconds, Brutal notices that Mr. Jingles’s tail has begun to move around again. Coffey then opens his mouth and lets out a cloud of black insects that turns white and disappears.
Once again, after the sudden surfacing of cruelty, it appears that hope and healing, too, are capable of appearing suddenly into human lives, bringing joy and comfort. The fact that Coffey performs the same series of actions that he did when healing Paul’s urinary infection suggests that his healing abilities are an integral part of his character, as though his entire purpose in life were to heal broken things.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
As the guards watch, dumbfounded, Coffey lets Mr. Jingles back down. The mouse looks normal again, if not for a little bit of blood on his whiskers, and Delacroix laughs and cries when he holds him in his hands again. Brutal brings Delacroix the spool and asks him to throw it, to see how the mouse runs. Delacroix reluctantly obeys, and Mr. Jingles runs with a slight limp—which, in Paul’s mind, only makes what has just happened (Mr. Jingles’s near-death and healing) all the more real. Coffey, whose look of suffering has gone, is happy to have helped someone again. After repeating that Percy is mean, he goes to lie down on his bunk.
Coffey’s decision to heal Mr. Jingles proves that no living being, however small (in Mr. Jingles’s case) or seemingly undeserving (such as Delacroix), should be deprived of the love and joy that are integral to life. However useless it might seem to revive a mouse for a man who is going to die the next day, it is precisely the lack of selfish motives behind Coffey’s act of healing that makes it so awe-inspiring and beautiful.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon