The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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The Green Mile: Part 4: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Paul calls Brutal, Dean, and Harry to invite them for lunch, noting that neither of them seem sleepy, which means that they were probably all troubled by what happened the night before. When the men arrive and Paul offers Janice to eat with them, she says she would rather eat on her own and not know what Paul is up to, so as not to have to worry.
Paul realizes that all the guards are troubled by Delacroix’s execution. This goes to show that, even though each person might have different ways of showing their emotions, they all feel the same compassion toward Del and his suffering.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
When the men are all sitting around the table, Paul explains that what is on his mind has to do with John Coffey and Mr. Jingles. Paul refers to Coffey’s healing of Mr. Jingles, which they all witnessed, to reveal the fact that Coffey healed his own urinary infection. The men discuss the issue and conclude that Coffey somehow absorbs people’s diseases and releases them in the form of black insects. As the conversation continues, Dean interrupts to say that he accepts these interesting facts as the work of God, but does not see what Paul thinks it has to do with them.
The men’s willingness to accept Paul’s story about Coffey reveals their capacity for faith and their belief that extraordinarily good events are perhaps just as likely to take place as extraordinarily cruel ones. Their willingness to believe demonstrates their capacity to humbly accept that there might exist a divine world beyond their knowledge and control.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
When the men hear Paul’s answer, they remain silent. Brutal says they could all lose their jobs. He mentions that none of them, except for Paul and his wife, know Moores’s wife Melinda. Paul tells him that she is a good woman and he would like her, too, if he knew her, and that what is happening to her is unfair. Brutal agrees, but argues that it sounds more like Paul is trying to account for what happened to Delacroix.
Paul’s desire to heal Melinda Moores becomes evident. While he justifies his plan by referring to the woman’s qualities, Brutal understands that this decision has less to do with the general injustice of Melinda’s illness than with Paul’s own guilt about what happened to Delacroix, for which he wants to atone.
Themes
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Paul agrees with Brutal, explaining that he feels he has to atone for his involvement in what happened to Delacroix. This justifies participating in the illegal act of helping a man escape and, in doing so, risking his job and his freedom to help Melinda Moores. Dean asks if Paul truly believes that Coffey could heal her brain tumor and Paul says he thinks so.
Paul builds an opposition between legality and morality, arguing that human law is inferior to divine law—which, through Coffey, allows for the healing and repair of wrongs, not just for punishment.
Themes
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
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When Brutal brings up the fact that Percy would never let them do this, Paul reveals the second part of his plan and the men smile at his idea. Harry nevertheless raises the objection that Percy could talk about what happened. Paul says Percy would probably be too afraid, and that if he threatens to say something they could threaten to talk as well, revealing the truth about Percy’s complicity in Delacroix’s botched execution and in Wharton’s attempt to strangle Dean.
Brutal and Harry’s practical objections to Paul’s idea do not constitute rejections of his desire to atone for what has happened. Instead, these objections show that the men are taking Paul’s project seriously, and desire just as much as their supervisor to feel better about what happened to Delacroix, however much they might be putting their jobs at risk.
Themes
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
The men then discuss practical details. Paul confirms that it makes more sense to bring Coffey to Melinda than the other way around, for Hal would never allow it. When he mentions that he had thought of using his car, Dean notes that it would be impossible to get a man of Coffey’s size inside it. Harry then offers the  use of his pick-up truck.
The men’s discussion of practical details demonstrates their acceptance of Paul’s project—and, once again, the fact that all men feel equally responsible for what has happened to Delacroix, even if they were not directly involved in causing him harm.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
When Dean raises a final objection about the fact that Coffey is a murderer and could become violent, Paul assures him that this would not happen. As the men press him to explain himself, he confesses that he is absolutely certain that Coffey is innocent—first of all, because of his shoe. Then he begins to explain.
Paul’s conviction about Coffey’s innocence comes as a surprise, as it appears that he possesses strong evidence—in addition to his personal intuition—which leads him to conclude that Coffey is not a murderer.
Themes
Morality and Justice Theme Icon