When Paul and Brutal enter the storage room about twenty minutes later, Percy is busy polishing the wooden parts of the electric chair. When Percy turns around, Paul realizes that he does indeed look mean—and that he enjoyed not only what he did to Mr. Jingles but also, and to an even greater extent, hearing Delacroix’s horrified screams.
Paul announces that Mr. Jingles is fine and, when Percy doesn’t believe him, he tells him to shut up. Paul is furious and tells Percy he should be glad the mouse is alive. Brutal joins in with a threatening attitude, and Percy fearfully says he has contacts that can protect him. Paul and Brutal tell Percy, who still does not believe the mouse is alive, that he can go check for himself.
Despite becoming gradually aware of the extent of Percy’s cruelty, Paul and Brutal still seem to believe that Percy can be affected by moralizing speeches and reproach. As usual, though, Percy invokes his political contacts, trusting that he can always escape justice—and, on a more personal level, that he can escape the need to feel remorse for what he has done.
When Percy returns, in a state of shock, he believes the men are playing a trick on him, having exchanged the dead mouse for a living one. To intimidate Percy, Paul and Brutal force him into the electric chair and force him to promise that, the day after Delacroix’s execution, he will put in his application to transfer to Briar Ridge. Percy says that he can appeal to his contacts and tell them the guards threatened him, but Brutal in turn threatens to tell everyone about Percy’s apathy when Wharton almost strangled Dean.
Paul and Brutal attempt to create a justice of their own, punishing Percy for his behavior without appealing to official channels. The guards persuade Percy not by appealing to emotions or morality, but by threatening him in the same way he has threatened them. This demonstrates that even a morally dubious method such as blackmail (typical of Percy’s behavior) can be used for good purposes, depending on who is using it.
After some more convincing, Percy finally agrees to apply for transfer to Briar Ridge the day after Delacroix’s execution. Even though Paul feels that Percy has a funny look in his eyes, as though he’d just had a good idea, Paul and Brutal shake hands with him, sealing their agreement.
Percy’s acceptance of Paul and Brutal’s conditions does not signal full submission to the guards’ authority, as it might initially seem to. Rather, his ironic look reveals that—just like Wharton’s ceaseless evil doings—he plans to cause as much harm as he can before he leaves the prison.