A Summary of the Novel "The Green Mile"

Any summary of the novel “The Green Mile” by Stephen King has to include a bit about the famous horror novelist, himself. He published this novel in 1996 as a serial novel, and the first edition actually came out in six small, paperbacks, which were later made into one novel. King is most well known for his horror novels, so as this summary of the novel “The Green Mile” shows, this book, set in the 1930s, is a departure from some of his other works.

Plot

The summary of the novel “The Green Mile” includes the plot and setting. The story takes place in 1932 on the E Block (Death Row) in Cold Mountain Penitentiary in Georgia. It is narrated by the main character, Paul, who is the captain of the prison guards who preside over E Block. “The Green Mile” of the title is the corridor between the cells of the cell block that leads to the execution room. The corridor is covered in green linoleum, hence, the “last” or green mile the inmates take to their death.

The story follows John Coffey, a large, black inmate convicted of raping and murdering two young white girls, and the other two inmates on death row, along with the guards who watch over them. Coffey is special, as Paul discovers, and he has magical healing abilities that become apparent. He befriends a small white mouse, who he names Mr. Jingles, and heals the mouse when the brutal guard Percy Wetmore tried to kill it. He also heals Paul’s kidney infection, and later, Paul spirits him out of the prison to heal the warden’s wife’s brain tumor. Coffey “transfers” this brain disease to Wetmore, the sadistic guard who the inmates and staff dislike. Wetmore never recovers and spends the rest of his life in a mental institution.

Eventually, Paul discovers that Coffey is exceptional in many areas. It turns out he did not murder the two girls, another inmate (William Wharton) did. Coffey does not want to be pardoned, and dies in the electric chair because he cannot bear the cruelties of real life. After his death, Paul discovers that each of the people Coffey has healed live extraordinarily long lives. Paul is 108 at the end of the book, and Mr. Jingles is 64. They have no idea how long they will live, and the novel ends.

Characters

A summary of the novel “The Green Mile” includes the characters in the novel.

Paul Edgecombe – Paul is the main character of the novel. A prison guard, by the end of the story he is an old man narrating this part of his life to a friend who is writing his memoir.

John Coffey – A nearly 7-foot-tall black man, a convicted murderer awaiting his death sentence on death row in the prison. He befriends a white mouse and heals people of their diseases.

Percy Wetmore – A sadistic prison guard who everyone dislikes. He torments the prisoners, tries to kill Mr. Jingles, the mouse, and deliberately botches an execution where the inmate suffers terribly. He keeps his job because he is related to the governor.

Eduard Delacroix – A Cajun man convicted of arson, he is essentially a coward. He is the man who dies a horrible death at the hands of Wetmore.

William Wharton – Another convict, it turns out he is the one who actually committed the murder attributed to John Coffey. He is wild and frightening, and attempts to disrupt the prison as much as he can before he dies.

Mr. Jingles – The white mouse that lives to be 64 and is befriended by John Coffey.

Source by Wendy Pan

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