Literature Study GuidesThe Green MileThe Mouse On The Mile Chapters 6 9 Summary

The Green Mile | Study Guide

Stephen King

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The Green Mile | The Mouse on the Mile, Chapters 6–9 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 6

This manuscript is the longest thing Paul Edgecombe has ever written, including the four-page love letter he wrote to his future wife, Janice, when he was 18. If he had known how long it would take him to tell the story of John Coffey on the Green Mile, he might not have started writing it at all. There's a lot more to explain—like the mouse—than Paul realized. He beseeches the reader not to forget about John Coffey, who is the real focus of the story.

Paul remembers Coffey always crying or sniffling "as if it was sorrow for the whole world he felt." Paul tried to comfort him, but he also felt Coffey "deserved to suffer" for his wrongs. In those early days of Coffey on the block Paul even considered asking for a stay of execution so Coffey could continue to punish himself in ways far worse than what the prison system could ever do.

Chapter 7

The President's sentence is commuted, or reduced. He spends the next 12 years in C Block before drowning in a vat of dry cleaning solution. For a few weeks the only people on E Block are the guards and the mouse, who appears only when Percy Wetmore isn't around.

Eduard Delacroix arrives in late July. He's dragged in by Percy, who calls the Cajun Frenchman a "French-fried faggot." Hurried by Percy, Delacroix trips over his leg irons and falls to the ground. Percy beats the little man with his baton until Paul Edgecombe finally manages to throw him into his cell. A furious Paul turns on Percy, who claims Delacroix tried to grab his penis on his way out of the van. Paul dismisses Percy, who threatens to "make a report of [his] own" if Paul reports the incident. He tries to intimidate Delacroix again, then tells Brutus "Brutal" Howell and Paul he's not scared of either of them.

Later Brutal tells Paul that Delacroix accidentally brushed Percy's "joint" while getting out of the van. He's pretty sure Percy knew that and just used it as an excuse for "whaling on Delacroix a little bit." Brutal wonders aloud why Percy would bother using his political connections to get a job at the state penitentiary, let alone on the Green Mile. Paul doesn't know.

Chapter 8

Percy Wetmore continues harassing Eduard Delacroix. Paul Edgecombe warns him to stop, but Percy isn't intimidated until Paul mentions Brutus "Brutal" Howell has been known to make reports of his own. "He isn't much shakes with a pen ... so he's apt to report with his fists," Paul warns. That keeps the peace for a while, and Delacroix begins to relax into E Block's routines.

One night Paul hears Delacroix laughing in his cell. He goes to inspect and see the mouse sitting on Delacroix's shoulder, looking "completely at peace." Delacroix shows Paul how he "trained" the mouse to run up and down his arms. Harry Terwilliger tells Delacroix the mouse's name is Steamboat Willy, but Delacroix is adamant his name is Mr. Jingles. The mouse told him so.

Delacroix wants a box for the mouse to sleep in. Paul is mulling it over when Percy comes in. Percy looks calm for the first time since he started working on E Block, like "a man who has discovered he can wait for the things he wants." Instead of rattling his baton against the bars of Delacroix's cell or trying to kill the mouse, he offers to find some cotton batting in the infirmary for the mouse to sleep on.

Paul and Harry are stunned by Percy's change in behavior. Years later, former warden Hal Moores tells Paul it was due to Moores's promise that Percy could be "out front" for Delacroix's execution.

Chapter 9

Eduard Delacroix only has four cents to his name. That's not enough to purchase the old cigar box on Toot-Toot's trolley, which Percy Wetmore suggested would make a good bed for Mr. Jingles. Paul Edgecombe and Dean Stanton kick in a penny each. After some haggling, Toot-Toot finally gives in. Percy adds cotton padding as promised. Paul notes, "Delacroix had a pet; Percy had one, too."

Delacroix's elderly aunt sends him a large bag of pink peppermints, which he shares with Mr. Jingles. The mouse eagerly devours the candies, holding them between his paws as if he were a human. He also learns how to retrieve an empty wooden spool, which Delacroix eventually decorates with crayon. Paul is flabbergasted—he has "never seen a mere mouse attend to something with such sharpness—with such intelligence." Though he doesn't think Mr. Jingles is "a supernatural visitation," Paul concedes Mr. Jingles "was a genius of his kind." Delacroix is convinced Mr. Jingles is a "circus mouse" who will make him rich someday.

Analysis

The President's reprieve happens right around the time The Chief is executed. As detailed in earlier chapters of the book, The Chief killed a man over a dispute about boots and The President killed his own father. Their crimes weren't that different, yet The Chief is punished more harshly than The President. It all comes down to their ethnicities. The Chief is a Washita Indian. The President is white. Very few white people of European descent come through E Block. Most are black while a few, like The Chief, are Native American. Those who do identify as whites of European descent often fall into lower-class ethnic minorities. This includes Eduard Delacroix, who is French-Cajun. Minorities weren't committing more crimes than white people—they were just punished more harshly because of their ethnicity. Even the guards on the block recognize this. They know The President's sentence was commuted simply because he was white. Likewise, they later understand there's no chance of Coffey avoiding the electric chair because he is black.

Percy's problem with Delacroix doesn't have anything to do with race. Percy doesn't discriminate in his hatred of the men who spend the rest of their days on E Block. However, he is especially awful to anyone displaying even the slightest homosexual tendencies. Delacroix's inadvertent touching of Percy's crotch sets off alarm bells in the latter's head. Events later in the book (Coffey's Hands, Chapter 8) hint that Percy isn't mad Delacroix touched him—he's afraid. He doesn't want anyone to think he likes homosexuals, encourages their behavior, or—horror of horrors—is homosexual himself. One might say Percy "doth protest too much" because he is hiding his own sexuality, but that's a stretch given the information provided by the author. Based on the text on the page, Percy isn't that dynamic of a character. His hostility and contempt for others can't be attributed to anything except his inflated ego and desire for power.

That desire for power is the reason Percy asked his uncle for a job at Cold Mountain Penitentiary, specifically to work on E Block. There is nothing more powerful than a person who controls whether others live or die. Warden Hal Moores alludes to this in The Two Dead Girls, Chapter 6, but it's more explicitly said in The Mouse on the Mile, Chapter 8. Percy doesn't just want to see people die—he wants to be the person in charge of their death. He wants all eyes of the audience on him as he recites the pronouncement of execution and signals for the switch to be flipped. Being "out front" is what he's been waiting for, and it's the only reason why he changes his attitude toward Delacroix. Percy can afford to be nice to Delacroix because he knows he'll fry him in the end.

Percy's dramatic change in attitude doesn't go unnoticed. Being friendly to Delacroix, not to mention helping him make a nest for Mr. Jingles, is completely out of character for the hot-headed young guard. But at this point Paul doesn't know about the deal Percy made with the warden. Part of him is hoping Percy is starting to catch onto the rule of life on the Green Mile. But another part knows Percy is biding his time until he can strike again. Men like Percy Wetmore don't change overnight, if ever. Paul has been around criminals long enough to know that. Although Percy has never been convicted of a crime, in many ways he's just as bad as the men he's supposed to guarding.

Mr. Jingles and Delacroix finally meet one another in The Mouse on the Mile, Chapter 9. It's been a long time coming—the reader has known about their relationship since The Two Dead Girls, Chapter 2. What the reader didn't know was that Delacroix is convinced the mouse talks to him. It's difficult to say whether Delacroix is making up stories or if Mr. Jingles really talks to him. After all, a lot of supposedly impossible things happen in this book. The argument in favor of a whispering Mr. Jingles only gains validity with Paul's insistence there was nothing "supernatural" about the little mouse. Until that point the reader was under the impression they were reading about a highly intelligent mouse who has human-like mannerisms. Then Paul brings up an idea that may not have yet crossed the reader's mind. When Paul says Mr. Jingles isn't supernatural, King is opening up the possibility that's not quite true.

An analysis of Mr. Jingles's capabilities isn't complete without a hard look at the man making the claim. Eduard Delacroix isn't the smartest guy on E Block. Some might even go as far as saying he's delusional. Delacroix knows he's destined for the electric chair. Still, he tells Harry, "When I get outta here, [Mr. Jingles is] gonna make me rich, like inna circus!" The only way Delacroix is going to leave the prison is in a body bag. He has just as much chance of becoming rich as he does of walking free.

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