Analysis of the Green Mile 1

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  • Topic: Sociology, Anomie, Émile Durkheim
  • Pages : 6 (1901 words )
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  • Published : December 5, 2011
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In the film Green Mile, different sociological theories and concepts can be useful in considering how societies rule our behaviors in life within different cultural places and times. A theory developed by sociologist Emile Durkheim known as the functionalist perspective profoundly applies through out the film. Concepts that are also seen in the film includes: human agency, norms, folkways, mores, and master status with a few theories and concepts of deviance. Green Mile

Green Mile is a movie adapted from a story about the lives of a few guards on duty in death row. The story leads up to the execution of a wrongly accused man that has a spiritual gift that permits him to perform extraordinary feats as he heals the wounded or sick. Paul is the main character in the story and his narrative leads the viewer through a narrative-a type of flash-back as he tells of his experience to his friend Elaine. Paul is in old age living at a retirement home many years after working as the head guard on Death Row at Cold Mountain Penitentiary in the State of Louisiana. Paul was a skeptical prison guard whose faith and sanity had deteriorated after many years of walking men down the "Green Mile" to their deaths by execution. They called it the "Green Mile" because the linoleum floor that led to the execution chair was green. Paul's life would forever be changed by one prisoner in the 1935 depression era. Paul and the other death row guards developed moral dilemmas with their profession as they discover one of their prisoners, convicted of brutally murdering two 9 year old sisters, has an extraordinary gift that, in words, is unexplainable. This gifted, but seemingly harmful man is John Coffey. As he enters the "Green Mile" the guards are complete taken by the paradox of his massive size and soft-spoken manor. He is a black man that is nearly eight feet tall with hands the size of a cast iron pan. Although, John's size could indicate that he could kill just about anyone, his behavior contrasts his appearances. Paul begins to find it odd that John is accused of murder because of his purely naïve personality and his horrifying fear of the dark. Paul and Brutus, a sympathetic guard, along with Percy (a conceded, immoral, and violent guard) as well as the warden, begin their journey of extraordinary experiences with John Coffey that involves an intelligent mouse and the healing of the sick and wounded. As another prisoner, William Wharton, known as Wild Bill, enters the green mile, disorderly effects begin to take place. John Coffey warns the guards that Wild Bill is a bad Man.


Order theorist Emile Durkheim is a sociologist who provided the functionalist perspective about society needing to be defined as stable, cohesion, consensus, cooperation, socialization, integration that creates functionalism. Human agency refers to the fact that individuals are actively shaping social life by adapting to, negotiating with, and changing, social structures. The functionalist perspective sees these as the key to any society with a high degree of consensus and cooperation. Furthermore, Durkheim states that equilibrium must be developed through integration and order; integration meaning that individuals should follow their societal norms and values while becoming a responsible member of the society. This is part of the consensus moral that Durkheim believes to be needed in order to achieve and sustain order.

Order is the second part. The formation of functionalism involves norms, social roles, and cooperation. In other words, everyone should and must cooperate with the social roles and norms that are expected of them for unity in their own society. For those who do not cooperate with the societal norms, punishment, often in the form of incarceration, is often the fate of the offender, for example. Further, Durkheim believes that the problem lies within the individual rather than the society and, therefore, should be rehabilitated and...
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