The novel is written on behalf of Paul Edgecum, who lives in a nursing home. In order not to lose what remains of his mind, he records the events of 1932 that changed his life.
Part 1. Two Murdered Girls
Paul serves as the warden of the prison guard in the death row unit, which is called the Green Mile because of its green linoleum. There is an electric chair in the room adjacent to the Mile. That year, one more guard, Percy, is added to the three Mile guards. This violent young man, a relative of the governor, could have gotten any job, but he chose death row, and Paul has to put up with him.
In the fall, John Coffey, a Negro of immense height and powerful build, sentenced to death for the murder and rape of white twin girls, is transferred to the Mile. Coffey behaves very meekly. He is afraid of the dark, seems a little lethargic, and cries all the time. In his strange eyes there is "an expression of quiet absence," as if Coffey himself were somewhere far away.
From the newspapers, Paul learns of his crime. The cotton farm owner's daughters have disappeared at night from an enclosed terrace. After a long search with dogs, they are found in a clearing in the woods. John Coffey cradled the naked, dead girls, crying and saying, "I tried to take it all back, but it was too late." No one questioned the black man's guilt, though another trail of dogs was found during the search.
Paul strives to maintain a peaceful environment on the Mile, but with Percy's arrival, peace is impossible. He is hated not only by the prisoners, but also by the guards.
He resembled a batch of arsenic injected into a wedding cake.
Warden Moores calls Paul in and asks him to be patient a little longer. Percy is going to transfer to the mental health clinic, but before he does, he wants to command an execution, which is his condition. Paul agrees to everything.
In the summer, even before Coffey arrives, a very clever mouse appears on the Mile. The beast regularly walks around the empty cells, as if looking for someone. Percy tries to kill the mouse, but it escapes in the restraint room for the violent, which serves as a storage room on the Mile.
Part 2. The Mouse on the Mile
The mouse only comes to the Mile in Percy's absence. Soon Edouard Delacroix is transferred to the Mile, and it seems to Paul that the mouse was waiting for him. The little bald-headed Delacroix, nicknamed Del, is convicted of rape, murder, and arson. After committing the crime, it's as if he has unleashed the evil inside him and turned into a humble and quiet little man.
Percy hates Del and constantly mocks him. Percy only calms down when Paul promises that he will command Del's execution.
It's funny how some people change under the right incentive.
Del calls the mouse Mr. Jingles. The mouse runs up and down Del's arms and rolls a wooden spool. Del thinks he trained the mouse, but the guards are convinced that Mr. Jingles has been able to do this before.
As Paul's urinary tract infection worsens and Warden Moores learns that his wife has brain cancer, Buzzy Bill is transferred to the Mile. This puny, blond-haired, nineteen-year-old boy of the "troubled kids" category has managed to do a lot of damage. Barely showing up at the Mile, Bill tries to strangle the guard, and is stunned by a blow to the head.
Part 3. John Coffey's Hands
On this day, Paul suffers particularly badly from his infection. Coffey, who has been sitting quietly in his cell during the commotion, beckons him to him. The rules forbid it, but Paul is drawn to Coffey's "out-of-the-way" eyes. The Negro presses his palm against Paul's groin, and something like an electric charge runs through him. Then the throbbing pain disappears, and a "cloud of little black insects" flies out of Coffey's mouth. They turn white and disappear. Paul believes that he "received a healing, a real, miraculous healing from God Almighty. He asks Coffey how he does it, but he shakes his head negatively. John doesn't remember what happened to him yesterday, but he knows how to heal.
Paul doesn't understand why God would put a miraculous gift in the hands of a child killer. He goes to the scene of the crime. The journalist who wrote about the murder is convinced that Coffey is guilty.
Such as your Negro is capable of biting at the first opportunity, just as a mongrel dog can bite if it goes to his head.
The day of Del's execution is approaching. Percy must place a sponge soaked in brine on the top of his head, which will conduct a current directly to his brain.
Breaking the rules, Percy gets too close to the cell of Buzzy Bill, and the latter grabs him. Out of fear, Percy pees his pants. Del notices this and laughs.
The night before his execution, Del plays with Mr. Jingles and throws him a bobblehead. It rolls out of the cell. Mouse runs after it, Percy steps on it and, satisfied with his revenge, leaves.
Part 4. The horrible death of Édouard Delacroix
Coffey asks to give the dying mouse to him "while there is still time." He brings Mr. Jingles to his face, inhales sharply with his mouth, then releases a cloud of black gnats from his mouth again, and the mouse unharmed returns to Del.
Preparing Del for execution, Percy puts a dry sponge under the contact, and the Frenchman burns alive. Paul can't turn off the power while Delacroix is alive, for then the whole thing would have to start all over again. Finally Del goes quiet.
The helmet slid sideways, but when we took it off, almost all the skin from his head and the remaining hair came off with it, firmly glued to the metal.
A frightened Percy excuses himself, but Paul realizes: he wanted to do a little mischief, but he had no idea what the result would be. Paul tells him not to touch Percy: he could get them fired, and it's not easy to get a job during the Great Depression. Mr. Jingles, who survived the execution in Coffey's hands, feels Del's anguish through him and disappears forever with Mili.
Paul reports the incident to Moores, but Moores has no trouble in prison: his wife is dying. Paul thinks Coffey can help her, and gathers Mili's guards at his house.
Part 5. Night Journey
The guards decide to secretly bring Coffey to Moores' house and make a detailed plan.
First, they neutralize Riot Bill by slipping sleeping pills into his drink. Then they wrap Percy in a straitjacket and lock him in a padded room. Coffey already knows he has a white lady to cure.
The exuberant Bill is unconscious, but when Coffey walks past his cell, he stands up and grabs his hand.
Coffey's reaction was astonishing. He ... cried out, letting the air out through his teeth as if he had touched something cold and unpleasant.
The friends manage to sneak Coffey outside the prison fence. They take him to the warden's house in an old truck. Moores meets them with a gun in his hand, but Coffey calmly walks to his dying wife.
As he approaches the bed, Coffey bends over, presses his mouth to the woman's lips and takes a deep breath. A strange scream is heard. Coffey pulls away, and Paul sees that the woman is healthy. This time Coffey doesn't exhale gnats. On the way to the prison, he gets sick.
Part 6. Coffey Passes the Mile
The guards struggle to get Coffey to his cell. They then release Percy and try to intimidate him. Paul, however, is confident that Percy will not keep quiet.
Released, Percy heads for the exit with Mili. As he passes Coffey's cell, Coffey grabs him, presses his lips to his mouth and releases black gnats. Thinking nothing of it, Percy walks over to Bully Bill's cell, shoots him six times, then the gnats fly out of his mouth. From this day forward, Percy does not utter a word and is declared insane.
Paul goes back to where Coffey was arrested, talking to a sheriff's deputy. He takes it upon himself to help him, and meets the father of the murdered girls. It turns out that shortly before the tragedy, he had hired a deputy, Violent Bill, who, according to Paul, killed the girls. Coffey found them, tried to revive them, but didn't make it. The Negro found out about it by touching Bill, and used Percy as a weapon. Because of the color of his skin, Paul can neither open a retrial nor arrange Coffey's escape.
The day of the execution arrives. Coffey tells Paul that he is tired of feeling the pain of those around him and wants to leave. As he is talking, he takes Paul's hand and he feels a tingling sensation.
Now John didn't know he was doing it. And suddenly I was scared ... It was like lights were going on inside of me. Not just in my brain, all over my body.
When Coffey lets go of his hand, Paul's vision and hearing are heightened for a while.
During Coffey's execution, the guards cry. Paul is convinced that they are killing a miracle of God, and it will be credited to them after they die.
Thanks to Coffey's touch, Paul lives to be one hundred and four years old. In a barn near the nursing home lives a long-graying Mr. Jingles. Paul found this world's oldest mouse on the back steps. There Mr. Jingles dies, and Paul lives for a very long time.
We all deserve to die, without exception, I know that, but sometimes, God, the Green Mile can be too long.