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Brad Dolan finds Paul in a poncho on his way out for a walk. He harasses him, wanting to know what he is up to. Paul doesn’t say, but he is obviously scared. Brad grabs him, and in his fright, he squeezes a piece of toast to smithereens. Later on, Paul talks to Elaine Connelly.
1) Paul says the more and more he listens to Brad, the more he sounds like Percy. Why do you suppose this is true? What qualities in Brad are found in Percy?
2) What do you think of Paul’s reactions to Brad? Do you think he is too wimpy or does he have a reason to be frightened?
Mr. Jungles has just been killed by Percy and pandemonium breaks loose. Del is beside himself with grief, the guards are angry, and for a while, Percy gloats. But all is not lost. John Coffey asks that the mouse be given to him “while there is still time.” Lo and behold, Coffey heals Mr. Jungles, and he lives, once again, to roll his beloved spool.
1) It is clear that Del loves Mr. Jungles, possibly more than he’s ever loved anyone or anything in his life. What are your feelings on the relationship between man and mouse?
2) When Mr. Jungles is brought back to life, it takes a little bit of time for him to regain perfect health. For a moment or so, he limps. Why do you suppose it happened that way rather than enjoying a whole, instantaneous healing?
3) What thoughts did you have while Coffey was healing Mr. Jingles?
Percy is no longer gloating. In fact, he is read the riot act by the other men he works with. The others downplay it, saying that Mr. Jingles is fine and that, in fact, he was not killed. Later, Del walks down the mile for the last time and is taken to his execution. He pleads that it not be Percy who carries it out when he sees his enemy in the lead spot.
1) What did you feel when Percy was getting his lecture?
2) Why do you suppose the others downplayed the situation with Mr. Jingles?
3) Did you get a bad feeling when Percy took up the lead for Del’s execution? Did you feel that he would somehow sabotage it? Why or why not?
Del is executed, and to say the least, it does not go well. Paul realizes that the sponge isn’t wet when it should have been, but the juice begins to roll before he can say something to correct it. Here is a very vivid description of what happens to Dell, almost step by step. It would certainly be horrific to watch and would be even more horrific to be Del. Be prepared to be quite grossed out. Del is, in fact, being cooked and burned alive.
1) It’s obvious that Percy wanted to sabotage Del’s execution somehow. He knew good and well that the sponge was to be wet. Do you think Percy meant for it to be as bad as it was?
2) What were your reactions as you read this chapter?
This is the aftermath of Del’s execution. We read more descriptions about the shape Del was in, which isn’t very pretty. He is pronounced dead, his body is removed, and Paul must face Curtis Anderson. Paul restrains Brutus from slugging Percy, which is good because Brutus might have lost his job if the punch was given. The men downplay Percy’s involvement, claiming that it was a mistake.
1) Were you surprised when the men covered Percy?
2) Why do you suppose they covered him instead of totally ratting him out?
There are more reactions to Del’s execution. Wharton reacts by singing a crude barbeque song while Coffey cries and says that Del is the lucky one for being out of it. The chapter ends with Paul handing Coffey one of his shoes.
1) Why do you suppose Coffey says Del is lucky? Do you think that this is Coffey’s way of saying he is ready to die?
2) Later on, we find out what the deal with the shoe was all about. Were you confused when Paul gives Coffey his shoe or did you have an idea what it was about?
Paul goes home and tells Janice about Del’s execution. We read that this is the first conscious thought of the big plan Paul comes up with. Later on, he mulls over the concept of atonement and thinks about his prisoners.
1) Paul has obviously seen and supervised many executions. Why do you think the concept of atonement comes to Paul’s mind after this one?
Chapters 8 & 9
Not much happens in chapter 8. Paul and Hal talk on the phone, and they mostly talk about Percy. Hal expedites paperwork so that Percy can transfer to Briar Ridge more quickly. Hal informs Paul that Melinda is getting worse. The other men come to Paul’s for lunch, and Paul reveals his plan. He wants to take Coffey to Melinda to see if he can heal her brain tumor. At the end of the chapter, Paul says that Coffey is innocent of the crime.
1) Why do you think it is important to Paul that they try to help Melinda?
2) Did you think that Coffey was innocent all along? Why or why not?
Paul reflects on writing his story, feeling as though he has traveled back in time in a sense. He is able to go for his walk unnoticed by Brad. The next day, he wishes to go again, but Brad is waiting for him in the kitchen. Elaine conspires with Paul and helps him escape by setting off a smoke detector with a cigarette.
1) It is clear that Paul loves Elaine. How do you feel about their relationship?
Paul explains about Coffey’s innocence. Coffey was unable to tie Paul’s shoe, therefore, he never would have been able to retie his lunch package that supposedly contained sausages for the dog (remember, there were no sausages in Coffey’s lunch and it was thought that he lured the dog with them). Paul interprets Coffey’s words, “I couldn’t help it. I tried to take it back, but it was too late,” to mean that Coffey found the girls, tried to help them, but they were too far gone instead of meaning that he murdered them, felt remorse, and wished he could change it. The confusion with the tracking dogs is explained. The coon dogs were tracking the killer rather than the girls while the other dogs tracked the girls. When the nightie was passed under their noses once again, then, the coon dogs tracked the girls.
1) Did this information surprise you? Why or why not?
Chapters 3 and 4
These two chapters lead into the adventure. Janice finds out that there is a plan to be carried out and she gives Paul her blessing. The men return to work and hang out until it’s time, making sure that everything is set. Somehow, Coffey knows what is going to happen.
1) How do you think you’d feel if you were in Paul’s place? Do you think you’d be able to remain composed?
2) How do you think Coffey knew what was about to happen?
Things start to move now. Wharton is given RC Cola, laced with drugs that Dean filched from the infirmary. It is assumed that he passed out, but the others don’t check thoroughly. Percy is bundled into the straight jacket and hauled into the restraint room but not before the guys discover his little secret. Percy was hiding an X rated Popeye and Olive Oyle pamphlet inside a book he was reading (a pamphlet that they let the prisoners see if they’re good). The other men laugh at him and the wind is taken from his sails. Coffey is let out of his cell, but Wharton is awake and grabs Coffey. It seems the light of a certain intelligence turns on inside Coffey, and it’s clear something is happening. This is actually one of my favorite scenes in the book.
1) What do you think of the way Percy was handled? Why did the men resort to locking him in the restraint room?
2) Do you think Percy got what was coming to him? Do you feel the men were too rough on him? Too soft?
3) Did you expect Wharton to grab Coffey?
4) Did you find it surprising that Wharton stayed up on his feet for a while although there was a large amount of drugs in his system by then?
Coffey is smuggled out of the mile and has to walk past Old Sparky before they’re out in the open. It seems he has a gift of empathy and says he can “feel them screaming. Pieces of them are still in there.” He is then rolled along an underground tunnel on the same gurney the men use to transport an executed prisoner. Once outside, Coffey drinks in the night and gazes up at the starry sky.
1) Do you think there is a significance to Coffey’s empathic sense?
A large part of this chapter is reflective on Paul’s part. He has doubts about continuing and considers aborting the plan and turning back. But, they arrive at Hal and Melinda’s and it’s too late to go back. They get past Hal’s (empty) gun, thanks to Coffey’s hypnotic powers. They find a very ill Melinda in bed, talking out of her head and swearing. It is a scene of devastation and one where death waits in the wings.
1) If you were in Paul’s place, would you have followed through with the plan? Why or why not?
In this chapter, the main part of the mission is accomplished. Coffey is able to heal Melinda by sucking out the brain tumor and taking it into himself. However, a snafu occurs – Coffey doesn’t cough out the black junk that accompanies one of his healing acts. Instead, he launches into horrible coughing fits and even takes on symptoms of the illness himself. During the healing episode, the house shakes violently and several articles are broken and sustain irreparable damage. Once she is well, Melinda tells Coffey that she dreamed of him, that they were wandering in the dark and found each other. Melinda then gives Coffey her St. Christopher medal, explaining to him that it will keep him safe.
1) It is clear that Coffey or his body is hanging onto the tumor for some reason. What do you think that reason is and do you believe that Coffey, himself, planned it that way?
2) What is your take on the amount of shaking the house does while Coffey is healing Melinda?
3) Do you feel there is any significance to Melinda’s dream?