Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book review: Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption



Book review: Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

This irrepressible, inscrutable short story by Stephen King is about bad people who are sort of really good people, and sort of good people who refuse to let really bad things become their way of life.

Red is a murderer, but we get past that in the first pages. Red is the philosopher-king of Shawshank Prison. For my money, Red is the point of the story. He repents his crime, he does the time, he comes to understand Andy Dufresne's untouchable devotion to regaining his rightful freedom, and Red finally, doggedly, walks the line of rock walls in hayfields in Buxton until he unearths the final proof of a friendship, and hope.

Andy remains a mysterious character, right to the end. We know he's innocent, we know he is cruelly and unjustly entombed and forgotten in hell, we know what he does in Shawshank, we admire his motivation, and yet we know the man only as Red knows him. Red is a passive observer, attentive to be sure, and responsive to Andy's intellect and his bulldog determination, but Red never penetrates Andy's mind, never really understands Andy's private self.

For me, as for Red, the man Dufresne has a full-length poster picture of himself taped to the top of his head, and we never are able to get behind the poster and get in to the real Andy.


Enfin, I cheered Andy's escape, and I was happy that Red finally got on the bus to McNary, Texas, and I think the two will enjoy a decent life in Zihuatanejo….and I think they live in a different world that I do not know, and do not want to know.


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