The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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The Green Mile: Part 6: Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the Georgia Pines nursing home, Paul spends all night writing about Coffey’s escape from prison. When he takes a short break, he falls asleep and wakes up in the morning. He decides that, instead of going out on his daily walk as he should, he will keep on writing so that he can be rid of John Coffey’s ghost. After he goes to the bathroom, he sees that Elaine has left a pot of tea for him. He resumes his writing.
Paul’s dedication to writing betrays his obsession with John Coffey, revealing the deep emotional trauma that he addresses by telling the story. Paul does not hide the fact that his goal is not to change history (which is impossible), but rather to repair the emotional damage the injustice of Coffey’s death has left on his own psyche.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Suddenly, a shadow obscures his writing. Brad Dolan is there, grinning by his side and telling him he missed him on his morning walk. Paul feels scared but tries to hide his emotion. He asks Brad what he has against him and, in doing so, inadvertently calls him Percy. When Brad tries to see what Paul has been writing, Paul gathers his papers together in a hurry and Brad squeezes Paul’s wrist, making him groan.
The moral and emotional value of Paul’s task is interrupted by Brad’s appearance, which suggests that even the pursuit of a worthy goal is vulnerable to setbacks. Brad’s harassment is purely self-centered, as he wants to assert his authority and control over Paul, making him feel weak and vulnerable.
Themes
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
While Brad is harassing Paul, an authoritative voice suddenly rises behind him, telling him to stop, and Brad jumps back, startled. When he sees Elaine bearing a breakfast platter, he tells her Paul cannot eat up here, and Elaine answers in a fierce tone that he can and he will. As Brad tries to threaten her, Elaine stands her ground and reveals that she is the grandmother of a Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. Paul laughs at the situation, realizing that, this time, unlike when he worked with Percy, the political connections are on his side.
The fact that Elaine’s political connections are able to protect Paul show that there is nothing inherently wrong with using one’s power and status to one’s advantage, as long as it is done for a good cause—and not, as in Percy’s case, as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for one’s actions. This proves that good people can be just as cunning as cruel ones, capable of defending their principles with the same vigor.
Themes
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Brad finally steps out of the room. Elaine asks Paul if he is all right and Paul asks her to read what he has already written, as he believes he is almost done. He also tells her that, when he is done, he will show her the secret place he goes to in the woods. Elaine smiles, kisses his forehead, and leaves, allowing Paul to finish his story.
While Paul does feel guilty about participating in John Coffey’s execution, he does not fear that Elaine will judge him for what happened. Instead, he is willing to tell the truth about his involvement and get rid of the unpleasant emotions that some of his memories have left him with.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
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