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Books

Literary Analysis Of The Green Mile By Stephen King

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

Everything that is written has been affected by the environmental surroundings. As such, author M A. Herald stated that ‘you are a product of your environment because different types of surroundings affect your behaviour and overall life satisfaction in a very real way.’ This quote infers that your environment is affecting your thoughts and beliefs therefore, all texts are a product of the author’s environment. The book ‘The Green Mile’ was a product of Stephen King’s environment. The author used the dominant discourse of reflect of the attitudes and cultural beliefs of Southern USA in the 1930’s, while contrasting these beliefs to today’s society. King intentionally wrote the book by intertwining the abuse of power with several different ideologies. The concept of power used in ‘The Green Mile’ illustrated that when it was abused, consequences that could and would transpire had a harmful effect on everyone involved. King cleverly employed the use of juxtaposition through characterisation, plot and setting of the book to reflect 1930’s America’s extreme racial, judicial and power tensions which encouraged the readers to realise what is happening in reality. Binary characters such as ‘good’ and ‘evil’ were created by the author to critique widespread racial prejudice. King utilised the social structure of upper class, middle class and lower class. This category was based on the working class in the status of American employment including lower, middle and upper. There was John Coffey who was accused of killing until he was imprisoned to get a death penalty. John Coffey belonged to the lower class social group. “It was a small door – I had to duck my head when I went through, and John Coffey actually had to sit and scoot. You came out on a little landing, and then went down three cement steps to a board floor. It was a miserable room without heat and with a metal roof, just like the one on the block…”.

Hal Moores was presented to be in the upper class as he was rich because of their work as the main leader in E block. Paul Edgecomb belonged in the middle class as he was only a warden. The author included the racial attitudes of the American and he wasn’t in the position to contradict society. John Coffey used this discourse of racial superiority when he referred to the guards as ‘boss’, consistent with black slavery where the whites were always known as boss. King had intentionally shaped the characters in this novel so that these higher classed individuals were perceived as ones who think of themselves as superior. Many characters in The Green Mile abused their power by inflicting pain or by using people when they were most vulnerable. In the novel, Percy Wetmore had connections that could have given him any job, except he was an evil coward and wanted to be in total control. He had no respects for Edgecomb’s authority as King used the class discourse to show how much better Percy thought he was ‘This isn’t my job, this big lugoon is my job’. Paul Edgecomb abused his power when he and the guards used John Coffey to help Melinda Moores. Paul was intimidated by the upper class and didn’t speak out about the justice systems wrong doings as he knew it would cost him his career. It was a time of the patriarchal society, where the people who had the power were always with male’s who lived an upper-class lifestyle Example: Percy Wetmore. The author, Stephen King cleverly made a connection of the social structure of America with the characterisation of the book. Therefore enforcing the fact that ‘all text are a product of the author’s environment’. Additionally, Stephen King constructed the plot to demonstrate flaws within the American judicial system. Racism is a prevailing ideology – one that is so overwhelmingly present in the legal system that it played an important role in condemning John Coffey to death. The novel sheds light on the racism that existed in the county’s institutions as well as within individuals. Racism was often used to highlight characters’ cruelty and to emphasise the explicit and implicit ways in which black lies are constantly devalued in daily life. The Green Mile shows that opposing racism verbally is insufficient to change the status quo. Even though anti-racism characters express their outrage as the injustice of Coffey’s death, they prove incapable of taking concrete action to try to save his life – or, at least, beyond Paul’s writing, to publicly clear him of blame. Ultimately, Kings suggests that the great justice of Coffey’s death is inextricable linked to – and symbolic of – the injustice of racist society like America in the 1930s. The author again included the environment of the time to be influenced by the book.

Furthermore, the dual setting of Louisiana Penitentiary and the Nursing Home were purposefully selected to highlight the timelessness and pervasiveness of prejudice and pervasiveness of prejudice and institutional power abuse. Stephen King had demonstrated through the execution of an innocent, John Coffey, that the Green Mile is a symbol of the ultimate abuse of power. He has used the novel as an effective method of his disapproval towards the justice system’s abuse of power, in particular capital punishment. Through time people have always taken advantage of weaker people. This blatant abuse of power is still present in today’s society and the consequences of their actions have led to nothing but devastation. King and The Green Mile have shown how this concept of power must be resolved in order for equality to exist. King utilised discourse of power and symbolic inconsistencies encouraging opposition to prejudice and abuse against marginalised people at a local, state and national level. In conclusion, Stephen King employed the use of juxtaposition through characterisation, plot and setting of the book to reflect 1930’s America’s extreme racial, judicial and power tensions which encouraged the readers to realise what is happening in reality. The author used the dominant discourse of reflect of the attitudes and cultural beliefs of Southern USA in the 1930’s, while contrasting these beliefs to today’s society. Therefore it can clearly be stated that Stephen King used the environment of the time in his book which enforces the quote that ‘all texts are a product of the author’s environment’.

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