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Green Mile

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The Green Mile
“On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That it was my job? My job?” This quote by Paul Edgecomb, the main character in the movie ‘The Green Mile’ symbolizes the obstacles in his life that he had to deal with while he was working as an executioner at a prison in Louisiana in 1935. During these times, inequality, injustice and stereotyping occur very often. This was the case when John Coffey arrived, thus creating an obstacle that would come back to haunt Paul in the later years while changing many views, perspectives and the way people think about the systems implemented in their life. John Coffey has to overcome the prejudice of the guards and administration of the prison. John also realizes his own version of self-fulfillment multiple times throughout the story creating happiness for the troubled man. Exploring these themes will provide more insight in to the story.

Making the wrong choices in your earlier years will live you with many regrets, especially when you are older. Paul learned this the hard way by letting the execution of an innocent inmate commence when he did nothing wrong. This is best symbolized by when Paul is at the retirement home at the age of 108, watching the film ‘Top Hat’. While watching the film, Paul becomes very emotional and has to leave the room. In 1935 John’s last wish was to watch this movie which triggered an emotional reaction from Paul in the later years. Paul believes that because he let this gift of God leave this world unfairly, that God is punishing him by making him stay alive to witness all his loved ones and friends pass away before him.

From the day of his incarceration, his peers have viewed him as less of a human, their views based on prejudice. Incidentally John Coffey is able to alter their views after prolonged exposure. Witnessing his selfless acts of kindness on people such as Hal’s wife or Paul; who he had no relationships with prior to his sentence shows the type of person he has been through all the hardships in his life. Overcoming his difficult situation impacts those around him and demonstrates how prejudices are often untrue and unnecessary.

Being aware of his eminent fate, John makes no attempt to waste his gift. Using every opportunity he is given to improve the world provides him comfort. This is because of the meaning it holds, allowing him to fulfill his desires to assist anyone who may require it. It is his ability to heal the weak that gives John Coffey his own form of self-fulfillment. Self-fulfillment also comes in the form of redemption and revenge for John and can be best shown when John gives the bugs to Percy to execute Wild Bill, causing Percy to become a patient in a mental hospital instead of a guard there. This shows that self-fulfillment comes in many shapes and forms depending on a person’s beliefs and views.

When the guards of the prison change their prejudice views of John Coffey, they realize that there is more to him than anyone could notice. John is a soft hearted man and when the guards comprehend this, their views change rapidly towards him but also their jobs and the systems implemented in their lives. Overcoming obstacles in life such as John did created a better feeling of self-fulfillment. Helping the people he barely knew to help the world out shows how misunderstood John is.

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