The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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The Green Mile: Part 5: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Paul walks into prison that evening, he is convinced that he can still smell Delacroix’s burned body but he knows that must be an illusion, since people have been cleaning the room all day. When Brutal arrives, followed by Dean, Paul asks Dean if he can go get him a heating pad at the infirmary for his back, and Dean almost winks at him. Harry arrives and confirms that his truck is ready.
Paul’s senses reveal his continuing obsession with the injustice of Delacroix’s death, demonstrating that the body is just as capable as the rational mind to reveal deep truths about morality. The men show solidarity in the midst of danger, demonstrating their commitment to justice over the ordinary duties of their job.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
The men hope that Percy will not show up, but Percy ultimately arrives a few minutes late. Throughout the evening, the men adopt an attitude towards him that is neither too friendly nor too hostile, so as not to make him suspicious. Paul wants to make sure that no one gets hurt, not even Percy.
Just as Paul adopts a respectful attitude toward even the most cruel inmates, he shows compassion toward Percy despite the horrible crime he has committed, wanting to spare him physical harm.
Themes
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Paul tells Percy to go wash the floor in the storage room and to write his report about last night. He then goes to talk with William Wharton. When he calls him “Billy the Kid” instead of “Wild Bill,” Wharton puffs up, proud at seeing his status as an outlaw finally recognized. Brutal and Paul make sure the restraint room is locked once instead of twice, so that they can open it quickly when the time comes.
Wharton’s pride at being recognized as a famous criminal demonstrates that his goal in life is to be cruel and to make his violent behavior as widely known as he can. He celebrates violence for its own sake, and wants to be known for it.
Themes
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Throughout the evening, Coffey seems unusually alert. When Brutal glances at Coffey’s cell on his way back from the restraint room, Coffey says he’d enjoy a ride, as though answering Brutal’s internal thoughts. Brutal and Paul look at each other, certain that, somehow, Coffey knows what they are planning to do.
Coffey proves capable of reading other people’s minds. While Coffey might not possess ordinary human rationality, his supernatural powers nevertheless give him a clear advantage over traditional intelligence.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
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