Literature Study GuidesThe Green MileCoffeys Hands Chapters 9 10 Summary

The Green Mile | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Green Mile | Coffey's Hands, Chapters 9–10 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 9

It is late October. Eduard Delacroix's execution is the next day. While he's in town, Paul Edgecombe meets a fellow parishioner who asks if the unseasonably warm weather is "a sign of the Last Times." Paul says he doesn't think so, but when he gets to the prison he can't help but feel like something bad is coming. His premonition is correct. That night Percy kills Mr. Jingles.

Chapter 10

Eduard Delacroix seems to be at peace with his impending death but is worried about what will happen to Mr. Jingles after he's gone. He runs through various scenarios with Paul Edgecombe. Paul's nerves are on edge after listening to the clack of Mr. Jingles's spool against the wall for 90 minutes. He nearly tells Delacroix to stop throwing the spool, but he catches sight of John Coffey, who deliberately shakes his head no.

Paul tries to help Delacroix come up with the name of someone who could care for the mouse after Delacroix is gone. He even offers to take him himself. None of those ideas appeal to Delacroix, who says Mr. Jingles told him he wants to be free. Brutus "Brutal" Howell finally suggests sending Mr. Jingles to Mouseville, a made-up tourist attraction in Florida. Brutal and Paul spin a tale of a mouse circus so magnificent that Delacroix can't resist. In his excitement he throws the spool extra hard. It bounces off the wall and out of the jail cell. Mr. Jingles races after it. The mouse doesn't notice Percy's raised foot, which stomps down and breaks his back. Blood gushes from Mr. Jingles's mouth as Percy walks away with a smile on his face.

Analysis

The Green Mile is full of omens, or signs of things to come. Most of the omens come in the form of weather. The hot temperatures that plague Paul and everyone else in town start right around the time John Coffey arrives on E Block, which happens to coincide with the onset of Paul's urinary tract infection. The storm rolling in is also a portent of bad things to come. It also heightens the tension of the scene. Both Paul and the reader get the sense that something bad is on the horizon.

Unlike previous instances in Coffey's Hands, author Stephen King comes right out and says what that bad thing is. This is a departure from his usual method of making the reader wait for the big reveal. There are a few reasons King might have done this. The first is because of the sheer impact of the sentence—"That was when Percy killed Mr. Jingles." This comes out of nowhere. There aren't any hints about it, and there's no slow build up to the act itself. Paul is worried and then—BOOM—Mr. Jingles is dead. It's enough to elicit an audible gasp from even the most even-keeled reader.

King may have also told the reader what happened before showing it so as to establish a sense of suspense for the entirety of Coffey's Hands, Chapter 10. The reader knows what's going to happen but they don't know how or why. It would be nearly impossible to put down the book after Coffey's Hands, Chapter 9, and save the final chapter for another day. Although some critics decry King's work as not being "literary" enough, there's no doubt about his skill in crafting a page-turner. He knows not only what his audience wants to read but how to keep them engaged. Suddenly killing a beloved character is certainly one way to do it.

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