The Green Mile
by Stephen King
A raping and murdering two young white girls. During his time on the Mile, John interacts with fellow prisoners Eduard "Del" Delacroix, a Cajun arsonist, rapist, and murderer; and William Wharton ("Billy the Kid" to himself, "Wild Bill" to the guards), an unhinged and dangerous multiple murderer who is determined to make as much trouble as he can before he is executed. Other inhabitants include Arlen Bitterbuck, a Native American convicted of killing a man in a fight over a pair of boots; Arthur Flanders, a real estate executive who killed his father to perpetrate insurance fraud; and Mr. Jingles, a mouse, to whom Del teaches various tricks.
Paul and the other guards are irritated throughout the book by Percy Wetmore, a sadistic guard who enjoys antagonizing the prisoners. The other guards have to be civil to him despite their dislike of him because he is the nephew of the Governor's wife. When Percy is offered an administrative position at the nearby Briar Ridge psychiatric hospital, Paul thinks they are finally rid of him. However, Percy refuses to leave until he is allowed to supervise an execution, so Paul hesitantly allows him to run Del's. Percy deliberately avoids soaking a sponge in brine that is supposed to be tucked inside the electrode cap to ensure a quick death in the electric chair. When the switch is thrown, the current causes Del to catch fire in the chair and suffer a prolonged, agonizing demise.
Over time, Paul realizes that John possesses inexplicable healing abilities, which he uses to cure Paul's urinary tract infection and revive Mr. Jingles after Percy stomps on him. Simple-minded and shy, John is very empathic and sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others around him. One night, the guards drug Wharton, then put a straitjacket on Percy and lock him in the padded restraint room so that they can smuggle John out of prison and take him to the home of Warden Hal Moores. Hal's wife Melinda has an inoperable brain tumor, which John cures. When they return to the Mile, John passes the "disease" from Melinda into Percy, causing him to go mad and shoot Wharton to death before falling into a catatonic state from which he never recovers. Percy is committed to Briar Ridge.
Paul's long-simmering suspicions that John is innocent are proven right when he discovers that it was actually Wharton who raped and killed the two girls and that John was trying to revive them. Later, John tells Paul what he saw when Wharton grabbed his arm one time, how Wharton had coerced the sisters to be silent by threatening to kill one if the other made a noise, using their love for each other. Paul is unsure how to help John, but John tells him not to worry, as he is ready to die anyway, wanting to escape the cruelty of the world. John's execution is the last one in which Paul participates. As Paul approaches the conclusion of his written story, he offers it to his friend Elaine Connelly to read. After she finishes doing so, he introduces Mr. Jingles to her just before the mouse dies, having lived 64 years past these events. Paul explains that those healed by John gained an unnaturally long lifespan. Elaine dies shortly after, never learning how Paul's wife died in his arms immediately after they suffered a bus accident, and that he then saw John Coffey's ghost watching him from an overpass. Paul seems to be all alone, now 104 years old, and wondering how much longer he will live.