The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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The Green Mile: Part 6: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Paul recounts Janice’s death, which took place on a rainy day in Alabama in 1956. Paul and Janice were traveling by bus to see their third grandchild’s graduation at the University of Florida. On the way, however, they got a flat tire and, as the bus skidded, it was hit by a truck. Paul regained consciousness among dying bodies. He went to his wife and knelt beside her as she shook as though she were being electrocuted. When he called out for help, he saw John Coffey in the shadows, but the figure soon disappeared. Paul believed it could have been a ghost. When Janice died in Paul’s arms, he cried out, wondering why John Coffey saved Melinda Moores but not his wife. Paul then realized that he, too, had been saved.
When faced with the personal burden of suffering, Paul realizes that even performing a good deed such as healing Melinda Moores cannot eliminate injustice from the world. His outcry about Coffey’s decision to save Melinda instead of his wife is not truly an expression of regret about what he did for Melinda, but it does convey a sense of the deep emotional pain that he lives with. At the same time, Paul realizes that his pain is inseparable from his luck—for, had he not been saved, he would never have suffered.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
In that moment, Paul realized there was no difference between salvation and damnation. He recalls the strange force John poured into him, and explains that since that moment he has never gotten sick. He was spared all the diseases that affected his friends, and he even avoided death during the accident that killed Janice. Since then, and especially since Elaine Connelly’s death, Paul now finds himself wishing for death.
Paul concludes—just as John Coffey had on the day of his execution—that emotional pain sometimes makes death seem more appealing than life. He determines that true justice and peace of mind do not necessarily relate to whether or not one is given the chance to live, since, in Paul’s case, he would choose death over suffering in the absence of his loved ones.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Looking back on his writing, Paul thinks about God, who chose to sacrifice innocent John Coffey. Paul thinks of the deaths of Mr. Jingles and of his wife Janice. He says he does suffer from one ill: insomnia. He lies awake at night, thinking of the people he knew and has lost. He thinks of Janice and he waits. Finally, he accepts that he will die, but laments that the Green Mile can seem unbearably long.
Paul concludes that God’s justice is difficult to understand, for it seems to arbitrarily prevent or, at other times, condone injustice.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon