The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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The Green Mile: Part 5: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Lying on her bed, Melinda Moores looks unrecognizable. Her skin is livid and drooping, her hair a mess, and her chamber pot full of a horrible yellow substance. When she sees Coffey enter the room, she looks at him with horror, and Paul wonders if she might be possessed by an evil demon. Suddenly, she regains curiosity and interest and tells Coffey to lower his pants, in a vulgar way that makes Hal groan out of despair. As John approaches, she seems to regain a bit of her sanity.
The contrast between Melinda Moores’s vulgar language and the elevated, spiritual and moral reason behind John’s presence in her room is surprisingly comical, demonstrating the gap between these two realities. In response to Melinda’s insults, John offers nothing but silence and warmth, proving that compassion is infinitely greater than violence of any kind.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Melinda asks Coffey why his body is covered in scars and Coffey says he doesn’t remember. Hal watches the scene, gripping Paul’s shoulder so hard that he leaves a bruise. Melinda asks Coffey his name and he tells her, adding as usual that his last name is spelled differently from the drink. Coffey searches Melinda’s face and says he can see “it.” Suddenly, he presses his lips against hers and inhales deeply, making the entire house vibrate and causing furniture to fall and glass to break. Paul puts out a fire that is rising from the bed’s counterpane.
Melinda’s concern with Coffey’s scars establishes a common ground of suffering between the two characters, suggesting that Coffey, too, has experienced the kind of pain she is currently enduring. The contrast between Coffey’s monotonously repetitive comment about his own name and his capacity to physically heal her demonstrates that, in this case, compassion and faith prove superior to mere rational intelligence.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Suddenly, Melinda’s body is agitated by a series of spasms and the men hear the sound of a scream. When Coffey moves away from her, she looks absolutely normal, healthy, and many years younger, while Coffey begins to cough. Paul believes Coffey is going to cough out the insects but, despite the men’s encouragements, Coffey seems to be choking on something inside of his throat. He tells Paul not to worry about him and to take care of the lady.
The miraculous effect of Coffey’s touch is once again apparent. This time, however, it remains ambiguous whether Coffey will ever be able to expunge from himself the suffering he has absorbed from Melinda. Coffey’s plight is visibly a tragic one, as he is bound to sacrifice his well-being in the interest of other people’s health.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Melinda wakes up as though from a trance and asks what has happened, explaining that she does not remember anything from the past few weeks. When she asks about the X-ray, Hal tells her they didn’t find a tumor and he bursts into tears. Melinda asks who Coffey is and, when he presents himself, she says she dreamed about him. In her dream she was wandering in the dark and then they found each other. Despite Hal’s protests, Melinda gets up from bed and, with a slight limp on the first step, goes to hug Coffey and thank him.
Melinda’s mysterious dream symbolizes a physical as well as a spiritual awakening, suggesting that she is now capable of recognizing Coffey’s divinely ordained powers. The presence of a limp reveals, as it did for Mr. Jingles, the fact that the miracle truly did take place, and that God’s powers are capable of entering ordinary humans’ lives to change them forever.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
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Harry tells Paul that it is getting late and that they should head out. Paul says goodbye to Hal, reminding him to keep the secret about the fact that they came to his house, and Hal thanks Paul before shaking Coffey’s hand and thanking him as well. Before the men leave, Melinda gets up again to hug Coffey and gives him her necklace, explaining that it is a medal of St. Christopher, which should keep him safe. John places the necklace around his neck and Paul sees that the man’s face looks gray and sick.
Hal and Melinda’s gratefulness toward Coffey, as well as Melinda’s gift to him, serve as a sincere recognition of Coffey’s innocence, worth, and inherent nobility. This communal recognition of Coffey’s exceptional nature highlights the superiority of kindness and faith over the limited (and often erroneous) legal system.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon