The Green Mile

The Green Mile

by

Stephen King

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Medal Symbol Icon

After John Coffey miraculously cures Melinda Moores of her brain tumor, she gives her savior a medal of Saint Christopher, telling him to wear it around his neck as protection. In addition to symbolizing Melinda’s gratefulness, the woman’s gesture highlights the parallels between the lives of John Coffey and of the Christian martyr Saint Christopher. According to legend, Saint Christopher—whose original name was Reprobus—was a giant in size and strength who served Christ by helping travelers cross a dangerous river. One day, an unusually heavy child he is carrying across the river reveals himself to be Christ. The child tells Reprobus that he is currently bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders—as well as that of Christ his king—and that he shall be renamed Christopher, which means “Christ-bearer.” Christopher is later beheaded by enemies of Christianity who try—and fail—to make him renounce his faith. Like Saint Christopher, Coffey, too, bears the weight of other people’s suffering on his shoulders. He, too, is condemned to die because he cannot renounce who he truly is: a man who serves God by saving humans’ lives (and, in this particular case, by trying to save the lives of the Detterick twins). The medal of Saint Christopher thus highlights the suffering that Coffey is forced to endure as a servant of God. It emphasizes Coffey’s role as a mediator between the divine and the human realms, as he helps humans survive the dangerous course (or “river”) of life.

Medal Quotes in The Green Mile

The The Green Mile quotes below all refer to the symbol of Medal. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Pocket Books edition of The Green Mile published in 1996.
Part 2: Chapter 6  Quotes

I don't want you to forget him, all right? I want you to see him there, looking up at the ceiling of his cell, weeping his silent tears, or putting his arms over his face. I want you to hear him, his sighs that trembled like sobs, his occasional watery groan.

Related Characters: Paul Edgecombe (speaker), John Coffey
Related Symbols: Medal
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3: Chapter 3 Quotes

I helped it, didn’t I?

Except he hadn't. God had. John Coffey's use of “I” could be chalked up to ignorance rather than pride, but I knew—believed, at least—that I had learned about healing in those churches of Praise Jesus, The Lord Is Mighty, piney-woods amen corners much beloved by my twenty-two-year-old mother and my aunts: that healing is never about the healed or the healer, but about God's will.

Related Characters: Paul Edgecombe (speaker), John Coffey
Related Symbols: Medal
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 5: Chapter 1 Quotes

Writing is a special and rather terrifying form of remembrance, I’ve discovered there is a totality to it that seems almost like rape. Perhaps I only feel that way because I’ve become a very old man (a thing that happened behind my own back, I sometimes feel), but I don't think so. I believe that the combination of pencil and memory creates a kind of practical magic, and magic is dangerous. As a man who knew John Coffey and saw what he could do—to mice and to men—I feel very qualified to say that.

Magic is dangerous.

Related Characters: Paul Edgecombe (speaker), John Coffey
Related Symbols: Medal
Page Number: 314
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Green Mile LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Green Mile PDF

Medal Symbol Timeline in The Green Mile

The timeline below shows where the symbol Medal appears in The Green Mile. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 5: Chapter 8
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Part 6: Chapter 9
Death and the Death Penalty Theme Icon
Love, Compassion, and Healing Theme Icon
...and that this is the hardest part. Paul then asks John to give him his medallion, which would be dangerous during the execution. As the men walk toward Paul’s office, John... (full context)