What I’m Reading This Week
It’s been a long time since I saw the film The Green Mile, however it quickly stole my heart and became one of my favourites. So it’s no surprise that as soon as I finished my last ever (eek!) year of university, The Green Mile was the first book on my own personal reading list!
The classic novel by Stephen King is classed within the genre of horror and, while the book does contain horrifying situations, The Green Mile manages to turn horror into something amazing and emotionally evocative.
The story follows the events that occurred when death row supervisor, Paul Edgecombe was in charge of ‘The Green Mile’ – this is the final walk that prisoners on death row take before meeting their end. As readers we’re introduced to Paul’s co-workers and the prisoners that face their own personal journey as they wait for their turn to walk the mile. With the arrival of William Wharton, a seemingly insane and inherently dangerous criminal, the normally peaceful and comforting mile is disrupted with the threat of violence and arrogance. However, with the arrival of John Coffey, a prisoner accused of a horrific and brutal crime, things on the mile take an unusual turn.
We’re taken in and out of Paul Edgecombe’s past and present life as he reveals his struggles with Percy Wetmore, the newest and cockiest supervisor on the mile, and we see the reality of the fragility of the justice system in America. As more and more inmates take their walk down the mile, we question whether everyone truly deserves to be there.
On top of danger, violence and unthinkable crime there are aspects of this book that will have you in tears. The notion of inherent criminality becomes uncertain, as we see a glimpse into the humanity that lies behind criminality, allowing King to blur the lines of acceptance of crime, humans and our own morality as readers.
The Green Mile is a classic. Combining brutality with fragile humanity and the desire to expose injustice creates a novel that you never want to end. While the characters may not exist in reality, their stories are ones that will teach you things about yourself that you never thought possible, and their messages will stay with you for a lifetime.