The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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The Green Mile: Part 6: Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Paul tells the entire story to Janice in the morning, just a few hours later. Janice half-jokingly says that he should keep certain small details out of his official report—such as Coffey’s healing powers and the fact that Paul helped a condemned murderer escape from prison. Paul tells his wife that he doesn’t know if Percy will ever be normal again. Retrospectively, from the nursing home, Paul explains that Percy remained in psychiatric institutions for the rest of his life.
Janice’s jokes lighten the mood, demonstrating once again that the human capacity for laughter can lighten even the most severe or dangerous situations. Her jokes also highlight the impossibility of convincing the outside world of Coffey’s divinity, suggesting that what they know about Coffey’s goodness and innocence will have to remain a secret.
Themes
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
Hal Moores privately asks Paul if Coffey’s visit to his house has anything to do with what happened to Percy, and Paul denies it. He tells Moores that Percy was calm throughout his time in the restraint room and that he has always held a grudge against Wharton because of how Wharton had scared and humiliated him in the past.
Paul lies to Hal Moores about Coffey’s role in Wharton’s murder so that Moores will not feel responsible for what has happened. Paul, in fact, does not yet know himself exactly why Coffey wanted Wharton dead.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
As Paul and Janice continue to talk about what has happened, Janice becomes lost in thought and Paul suddenly finds himself wondering why the Detterick girls didn’t scream when they were taken. Janice asks Paul if he truly thinks Coffey intended to kill Wharton through Percy, and Paul says he does.
Paul and Janice both become aware of various questions they have about the Detterick case and about John’s reasons to kill Wharton. They attempt to figure out the reasons behind unjust or violent acts, showing their need to establish clear motives and morality.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
Janice then asks Paul to go through the details again of the moment when Wharton grabbed Coffey’s arm. As Paul recounts the story, Janice wonders why Coffey, who had never had any interaction with Wharton before, called him a bad man. She asks Paul to describe to her how Coffey’s face looked and, while Paul doesn’t understand why she is asking him all these questions, he says that Coffey looked surprised, but not merely because of being attacked out of the blue. Paul fails to describe how Coffey’s face looked, and Janice concludes that she is surprised at Coffey’s burst of violence, since he is not an inherently violent man. She also says that she does not understand how Paul could execute him if he knows Coffey is innocent. Suddenly, Paul is taken aback by an idea and realizes that he needs to find out more about it.
Janice helps Paul realize that Coffey’s inexplicable action probably has to do with another inexplicable event: the moment when Wharton grabbed Coffey’s arm and Coffey’s face mysteriously changed. Janice’s surprise at Coffey’s attack against Wharton shows that she believes that Coffey, who is a man with strong moral principles, probably has valid motives for wanting to kill Wharton. Neither Paul nor Janice seems bothered by the fact that Coffey is now guilty of murdering a fellow human being. Their trust in Coffey’s sense of justice leads them to accept his sudden violence.
Themes
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Morality and Justice Theme Icon
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