In the movie "The Green Mile", John Coffey heals the prison guard Paul using his special power. He then opens his mouth and hundreds of "flies" appear buzzing away.

What are those flies supposed to represent?


The flies are a physical manifestation of disease and evil that John Coffey has sucked out of the body. (I'd have preferred them to fly away rather than dematerialise.)

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    The flies are Death, Pestilence, Famine, and War. Possibly just Death. – Gorchestopher H Aug 19 '13 at 16:16
  • @GorchestopherH Is that from the novel? – coleopterist Aug 19 '13 at 18:36
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    @coleopterist - He's being facetious. Death, Pestilence, Famine and War are the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. – JohnP Aug 19 '13 at 18:43
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    My actual thoughts were that the flies were death, and perhaps pestilence. So I thought I'd throw the other two horsemen into the mix. Of course, the "horsemen" are figurative, not actually "horsemen" anyway, but 4 great plagues. Flies always represent death in literature. See Lord of the Flies and any poetry mentioning flies. Flies, or the swarm, is the 4th plague of Egypt. Even in visual works, one might see a scene with someone seemingly sleeping, but a fly appears and we all realize the person is dead. The flies are death. – Gorchestopher H Aug 19 '13 at 19:29
  • Lol absolutely no connection to the horsemen of the apocalypse. Someone's read too many marvel comics (yes I'm aware that it's from the Bible originally). They are too small to be flies, but they certainly do give off an insect vibe. Being that Hollywood is all crazy about Scientology maybe they're "Thetans." – Fart knocker Mar 24 '17 at 23:54

Coffey also exhales insects after he cures the mouse with the broken back, so I don't think the flies can represent disease extracted from the person being cured.

My guess is the flies are something like the exhaust gas from a motor. Whatever mechanism Coffey uses to heal generates (psychic?) waste that he has to get rid of. However I can't find anywhere in ther book that goes into any more detail. In fact I can only find the two mentions of the flies.

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    Disease/injury/physical disability = same ball park. Re: psychic, I've bolded the J & C in my answer for a reason :) – coleopterist Aug 19 '13 at 8:33
  • @coleopterist: What reason? – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Aug 19 '13 at 16:15
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft The are a number of parallels between Coffey and another J.C., Jesus Christ. – coleopterist Aug 19 '13 at 16:28

The flies were representative of the demonic powers of Satan, Beelzebub to be precise - another name for Satan. Beelzebub means "lord of the flies"

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  • Is this a guess or comes from some supplementary materials? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 27 '15 at 1:45
  • @DVK - Seems like a complete guess to me. – Valorum Aug 15 '15 at 15:58
  • Neil Gaiman thinks Beelzebub and Satan are two different entities, and frankly I'm more inclined to believe him. – Gallifreyan Apr 7 '17 at 10:44

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