The Green Mile (1999) Ending Explained – The hidden meaning behind John Coffey’s execution

The Green Mile Plot Synopsis

The 1999 prison fantasy drama is an unparalleled piece of Stephen King’s vivid imagination. The Green Mile is full to the brim with thought-provoking moments, however the climax is significantly richer in terms of emotion. What makes The Green Mile ending so special? Let’s find out!

Set in 1935, The Green Mile follows the events in Cold Mountain Penitentiary of Louisiana following the arrival of an enigmatically massive convict, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan).

Initially thought to be uncontrollably dangerous and cruel, Coffey goes on to win the hearts of death row prison guards, and even a fellow prisoner. The head guard of the death row, Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) takes just a little time to realize that Coffey is no ordinary man.

Why does Paul Edgecomb feel Coffey is special

John Coffey was sentenced to death after being convicted of rape and the brutal murder of two girls. However, Coffey’s horrendous crime is at odds with his caring and miraculous personality. The big man does all that’s within his capabilities to rid people of pain.

He cures Paul’s bladder infection with his healing touch, inexplicably gives a new life to a fellow prisoner’s pet mouse, Mr Jingles, and similarly keeps giving people what they deserve. Paul notices Coffey has reverence in his heart for good people and a part of him is aching to remove all that’s evil.

In a scene, Paul tells his colleague that he is sure Coffey hasn’t committed any crime because an evil man is not gifted by the gods. Simply put, he’s the god’s man as per Paul.

How does Coffey feel about his execution?

Though Coffey’s exterior suggests he is calm and collected, he is constantly rolling something in his head. But, it’s not the fear of execution.

He enjoys it if something amusing happens on The Green Mile. Yes, the death row in the movie is nicknamed The Green Mile. He doesn’t offer any resistance during his execution. If anything, he just expresses his fear of darkness and requests Paul not cover his head while he is on the electric chair.

Right before his execution, he gives a broad smile and apologizes to the family of the victims for a crime he didn’t commit.

The hidden meaning behind John Coffey’s execution

If you pay close attention, you’ll probably notice that the unjust execution of John Coffey is consistent with Jesus’ crucifixion, and hence the initials J.C.

Coffey is tired of witnessing the sufferings and agony of people. The gentleman set out to reform the essence of humanity but realized he couldn’t go on. He has fears just like every other mortal in the world.

He offers no resistance because he is ready to die for the sins of others – which is another biblical reference. The man might be huge, but inside he is as broken and as feeble as the man depicted in the Bible. And lastly, his apology was nothing but an effort to provide peace to those who are hurt before he dies.

John Coffey’s fate wasn’t pre-decided, it was something he himself chose.

Coffey’s gift to Paul: boon or bane?

Coffey passes on his healing powers to Paul. And though it’s not clearly stated, the man has a role to play in Paul’s extended life in all probability. Framing scenes show Paul to be 108 years old and he still has Mr Jingles. While Paul believes his extended life is the painful price he has to pay for his part in Coffey’s execution, it is generally understood that Coffey actually blessed him to live long.

Paul is a kind man, so his long life would mean many more lives influenced positively. After all, that’s all Coffey wanted – good humans doing good things.


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8 thoughts on “The Green Mile (1999) Ending Explained – The hidden meaning behind John Coffey’s execution”

  1. Literally one of the best movies of all time. Everything about The Green Mile, from the writing, the many talented actors and their incredible performances, down to the meaning of John Coffey’s gift and why he chose Paul to see through his eyes, the things that he had seen and ultimately pass some of that gift on to him and Mr. Jingles, makes this movie a timeless classic that I think everyone should see at least once in their lifetime..

  2. Interesting observations on the movie. I do wish that the parents of the murdered girls had known that John was truly innocent

  3. Hey Curt thank you for your message! I don’t think there is any information regarding that.

  4. The green one of the best movies I’ve ever seen 😍. No exceptions! One question, HOW OLD WOULD JHON COFFIE HAVE BEEN.

  5. The green mile is one of my favorite movies of all time. How I would have loved to have known, John Coffey and Paul. The whole cast was phenomenal, even down to the prisoners, who will surely guilty and pains in the neck!

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