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Interpretations of The Green Mile

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This page pertains to the academic interpretations of the movie The Green Mile. For the movie's plots and production details, see The Green Mile (film)

Psychiatry Evaluation[edit]

When viewed through a psychiatrist’s lens, John Coffey experiences delusions, a fixed belief that he has a gift, or a curse, that causes him to feel everyone else’s pain in the world. John is an innocent man on death row at Cold Mountain Penitentiary, with beliefs of being magical. Specifically, he believes he's able to take away other peoples’ medical ailments, including Paul Edgecomb’s bladder infection and Melinda Moore’s brain tumor, making them disappear.[1] Upon further inspection, The Green Mile is a depiction of the myth of the Sin Eater;[2] a person that consumes a meal in order to absorb the sins of a recently deceased person.[3] The Sin Eater is a culturally sanctioned belief from Old Welsh mythology.[4] The term, culturally sanctioned, as used here, implies that what is happening to John is real, as long as he believes it. Apart from the impact of the belief, John’s functioning is not markedly impaired. Outside of the scenes depicting “John as Sin Eater,” John’s behavior is not obviously bizarre or odd. As such, while a provisional diagnosis of a Delusional Disorder may be rendered, The Green Mile turns out to depict behavior that is within a culturally-sanctioned norm.[5]


  1. "10.1063/5.0040880.2". Default Digital Object Group. 2021-05-26. Retrieved 2022-04-15.
  2. DeTore, Joanne L. (2019). "Killing 'One of His True Miracles': John Coffey as the Pagan Sin Eater in King's The Green Mile".
  3. Hartland, E. Sidney (June 1892). "The Sin-Eater". Folklore. 3 (2): 145–157. doi:10.1080/0015587X.1892.9720101. ISSN 0015-587X.
  4. "Sinful suppers: Sin-eating in England and Wales". SECONDS | Food history. Retrieved 2022-04-15.
  5. Whitlow, Simone Toni (2021-06-22). "The Sin-Eater". Tales of History and Imagination. Retrieved 2022-04-15.

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