The Green Mile

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In his novel ‘The Green Mile' Stephen King uses the dominant discourse of power to reflect the attitudes and cultural beliefs of Southern USA in the 1930's, while contrasting these beliefs to today's society. The concept of power used in ‘The Green Mile' illustrates that when it is abused the consequences that can and will transpire have a harmful effect on everyone involved.

The abuse of power intertwines with several different ideologies in ‘The Green Mile'. Justice can be identified as the foremost significant abuse of power in the novel. Those who had power positioned themselves so that they could take full advantage of their situation, while those who did not have power couldn't act without being disgraced in the process. The level of power one person possessed was determined by various reasons, from something as simple as religion to family history.

Stephen King clearly shows in the novel that the dominant reading is that power is a way of life. Seventy years before the 1930's, was the time of King Cotton, where many families made their fortune and gained respect and power from the community. The Detterick's were a result of this history and the judgement of John Coffey was swift because the Detterick's were considered to be well off. These well to do families were also known in the eyes of the public to be a very religious families, as the novel was set in 1930's Louisiana, which was referred to as the Bible belt. This area of America was known for their over reliance on religion. Stephen King shows throughout ‘The Green Mile' that the word of people who have power is never questioned.

Lower and middle class people were powerless to change societal concepts. Paul Edgecomb listened to Burt Hammersmith expose the racial superiority in society, when he stereotyped and compared Negro's to the likes of animals, ‘In many ways, a good mongrel dog is like your negro, you get to know it, and often you grow to love it'...
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