Warning: Below is the plot and ending to The Green Mile
The Green Mile is a novel by Stephen King. A movie of the same name was also created. Below is the plot to The Green Mile. The plot concentrates on the book, with a section highlighting the differences between the movie and the novel.
The plot of The Green Mile
The main characters of The Green Mile are the inmates and wardens of the E Block of Cold Mountain Penitentiary. The novel is narrated by Paul Edgecomb, the captain of the guard. The corridors that lead from the cells to the execution room at a prison are called the "last mile". At Cold Mountain the floor is green, hence the name The Green Mile. The cellblock has an electric chair called "Old Sparkey". The story takes place in the 1930s. The book in 1932, but the movie later in 1935. The story also has a section where Paul is an old man in a nursing home.
The story is primarily around an inmate called John Coffey. He is a seven-foot black man who is convicted of raping and killing two small white girls. He is a very quiet man and afraid of the dark: this coupled with his enormous size makes him a very memorable man. John Coffey is not able to do such things as tie a knot, and is described as "knowing his own name and not much else." Despite this he is convicted of luring the girls away from the home and disposing of a watchdog. This would require careful planning and clear thinking, skills Coffey does not appear to have. Despite Coffey's massive size, he is the calmest inmate the wardens have ever seen.
During the primary period of the story there are two other inmates on the block on which the story concentrates. These are Eduard Delacroix, a french man convicted or arson, rape and murder. Delacrioix has a pet mouse called Mr. Jingles, who is able to perform tricks. The other inmate is William Wharton: a tough and boasting character, claiming to be a modern Billy the Kid.
After John Coffey arrives the warders realize that he has a special gift. The captain of the guard, Paul Edgecomb, has a urinary infection, which is causing him extreme discomfort. John Coffey realizes this, and when in distance of Paul, grabs him and heels him. Paul is naturally flabbergasted by this. John Coffey is set to be executed, and the guards realize they have to execute a man with a "gift from God."
A new warder called Percy Wetmore arrives at the prison. Percy is a vicious sadistic person, who is un liked by everyone on the block. He is however the nephew of the governors wife, which prevents the other warders from being able to keep him in line. John Coffey heels Mr. Jingles, after Percy Wetmore steps on the mouse. Percy does a deal. He wants to be "up front" (in charge) of the execution of Eduard Delacroix. For this he will get a transfer from the prison to a different government job, and the warders will not hear from him again. Percy deliberately breaks procedure during the execution of Eduard Delacroix, and causes Delacroix great suffering before he dies. This is witnessed my many people who have come to watch the execution.
John Coffey also has the ability to see people's thoughts or memories. William Wharton grabs Coffey's arm, and Coffey sees Wharton's memory of killing the two little girls that Coffey has been convicted of. Coffey transfers this image to Paul, the chief of the guard. By this Paul knows that Coffey is an innocent man. The warders now realizes that they has to execute an innocent man with a "gift from God."
Prior to this the story reveals that the warden's wife is dying of a brain tumor. Paul and his wife are good friends with the warden and his wife, and the news of the brain tumor, and the demise of the wardens wife is very upsetting for Paul. Paul invites the other warders to his home for lunch at the weekend. He explains that he wants to sneak John Coffey out of the prison to the wardens house. There John Coffey will heal the wardens wife. They will then return Coffey to the prison. The warders know they not only risk their jobs, but also time in prison if they get caught. They all agree however to go ahead with the plan. They take Coffey to the warders house, and the warders wife is healed.
When they return to the block John Coffey transfers the illness he extracted from the wardens wife into Percy. The warders do not know that he intends to do this, and perhaps Coffey had not planned it. He does this to punish Percy for his many evil actions. John Coffey is finally executed.
Paul and Mr. Jingles experience unnaturally long life. Paul is 104 years old, and in a nursing home, when he takes the dead body of Mr. Jingles to a shed. Mr. Jingles lived until he was 64. Paul wonders how much longer he will live. The book ends with this quote: "We each owe a death, there are no exceptions, I know that, but sometimes, oh God, the Green mile is so long."
Differences in the movie from the book
- The movie of The Green Mile is very loyal to the novel. Below are some of the notable differences:
- In the novel Paul Edgecomb is telling the story to his fellow nursing home friend Elaine. The novel covers some of Paul's relationship with Elaine. Paul starts his recollections of his time on the mile when he is reminded of Percy Wetmore by an employee at the nursing home, called Brad Dolan. In the movie Brad Dolan is left out completely. The nursing home scenes only occur at the beginning and at the end of the movie, rather than throughout the story as in the novel. Paul's memory is triggered by the movie Top Hat which is shown on the television. This movie is added to main story line, when John Coffey asks to see a "flicker show" as his last request.
- Hal Moores, the warden, has an assistant in the novel, called Curtis Anderson. In the movie Curtis Anderson does not appear, and his lines are given to Moores. Other inmates who did not have speaking parts are also omitted from the movie.
- The novel, which was released in six separate parts, is not in chronological order. The movie does show the story in chronological order.
- In the novel there is strong evidence to suggest John Coffey is innocent. This is interpreted by Paul Edgecomb the narrator. The confusion of the tracking dogs is a major part of this. In the movie this is transformed into the scene where John Coffey grabs Paul Edgecomb's hand and transfer the image from William Wharton, the real killer, to Paul.