Why do they kill John Coffey in King's The Green Mile?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

John Coffey is seen as a threat.  From the outsider's point of view, Coffey is responsible for the death of two little girls.  A combination of factors are manipulated to paint a picture of Coffey's guilt.  The fact that he was found with the girls' bodies, their blood on his clothes, him weeping at the site are all elements that are used by the prosecution to prove his guilt.  At the same time, Coffey's gargantuan size and his ethnicity are subterranean factors in his prosecution, with the belief that a man of his size and man of color would prove threatening to the White establishment.  Coffey's death becomes a stinging rebuke on the chance for humanity to find redemption, as Coffey is not a killer.  His ability to breath life into human beings is what compelled him to find the two girls and try to save them. The blood on his clothing was due to him holding the girls near him in trying to breath life back into them.  His weeping was not about him being caught, but rather his failure to save their lives.  Holding the girls becomes a stunningly powerful moment where the need to give life after it has been unnaturally taken away is completely denied.  Yet, not understanding all of these elements, the prosecution issues him the death sentence.  The implication of this is that the killing of Coffey, the redemptive power of life that can provide hope and salvation, is a reminder that the human race somehow takes sadistic pleasure in taking life.

We’ve answered 317,686 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question