To pass through the little door separating Paul’s office from the storage room, Coffey is forced to sit down, scoot, and get up again. In the storage room, when Coffey sees the electric chair, he remains motionless in front of it, his arms full of goosebumps. Coffey says that he can hear pieces of Delacroix still screaming, and the men are terrified by this thought. Paul takes control of the situation, forcing Coffey to regain control of his senses and walk through the door toward the tunnel.
The outsized proportions of Coffey’s body in relation to the small door leading to the electric chair symbolizes the ways in which Coffey is general ill-suited to the human world and, in particular, to the human justice system, which does not recognize the exceptional nature of his character. Coffey’s mention of Del’s cries evokes the fact that even though Del is dead, the injustice of his death lives on.
Paul makes Coffey lie down on the gurney—which they used the night before to transport Delacroix’s body—and the men push him down the tunnel. Coffey smiles and says he is having fun. When Paul thinks to himself that the next time Coffey will ride in this gurney he will be dead, he shivers at the thought of “pieces of him” still screaming even after his death.
The irony of putting a live body in Del’s gurney serves as a reminder that Coffey—like, Del, and like everybody else on Earth—will one day have to surrender to death. In Coffey’s case, the knowledge of death is indelibly tied with injustice, since he is condemned for a crime he did not commit.
At the end of the tunnel, Paul opens the steel gate with a special key and, farther down, Coffey helps Harry open the bulkhead. The men enter a cold, April night and Coffey catches a dead leaf that is flying around so that he can smell it. Avoiding electric wire and the light from guard towers, fearful that any sound they make might lead to their discovery, the men succeed in reaching the side of the highway. They walk toward Harry’s car, while Coffey is busy enjoying the outside world, reveling in its sights and sounds.
Coffey’s excitement at being reintroduced to nature and the fresh night air marks a poetic pause in the otherwise chaotic and dangerous effort to get him out of prison. His attitude is almost child-like in its enthusiasm but, at the same, reveals his deep connection with the beauty of life, demonstrating his capacity to see straight through to the essence of things, both good and bad.
When they finally find the car, Harry and Brutal sit in the front while Paul sits in the back with Coffey, and they all set off. Smiling, Coffey spends a long time looking at the stars. He shows Paul a constellation, while Paul observes Coffey’s look of utter happiness.
Unlike the guards, Coffey is undisturbed by the practical dangers they are facing. Instead, he revels only in the deep beauty of the universe, demonstrating his connection to a more profound realm of existence.