Trying to make the best living mechanism in a constrained environment often is tough for everyone, as freedom being considered most desired goal in everyone’s daily life. Freedom should be considered a luxury, since not everyone has it. But in a place like prison as it is described to be constrained with no freedom, especially if one is abused, violated and insulted everyday. Then how do prisoners cope with lack of freedom in jail for years and years, and even for decades. In novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King develops the significance of an individual’s attempt to live unconstrained by convention or circumstances through different experiences.
Main character Andy Dufresne was sexually abused by Bogs Diamond at the beginning of his life at Shawshank, Andy went through dark period of getting abused and picked on in the prison as “Andy had reputation for being a snob and a cold fish, People were saying Andy was marked for trouble already. One of the people saying so was Bogs Diamond” (9). Unfortunately, in prison it is not a surprise to get abused in any sort sine you are surrounded by criminals.
To not get abused in prison is rare, but Andy finds a way to get relieved by this abuse by bribing the guards where Andy became subject to extortion when the administrator used him to do their tax returns ; “By April of 1951, Andy was doing the tax returns for half the screws at Shawshank , and by 1952, Andy was doing almost all of them” (27). This quotation shows that lack of empathy, and morals used by the administration at Shawshank. Although Andy suffered from mental abuse by use of extortion and punishment because he had been doing the taxes of the administration. But this was worth it, since he did not have to face the abuses from “The Sisters”. The guards were basically his guardian angels from Andy’s attackers, for example one morning “Bogs was found in his cell badly beaten, one morning in early June, when he didn’t show up for breakfast nose count, He wouldn’t say who had done it. (35) Andy intelligently manipulates the guards in order for him to live the best prison life and feel unconstrained by abuse.
This shows how the prison system would turn a blind eye to inmate’s outbursts when presented with something that benefits them.The narrator, Red attempts to live unconstrained by having black market, where he owns his own business, and he got connections which allows him to trades goods with low charge. Although he says that he doesn’t do it for the money since Red’s “never going to own a Cadillac car or fly off Jamaica for two weeks” (2) but he does it for the entertainment. Not only does the black market let of steam of Red, but he helps others to get drinks, trying to make the best living possible moment for other prisoners, which helps to escape reality. Due to that Red has a higher social standing in the prison as he builds his reputation.
He wouldn’t be able to smuggle supplies into the prison without his network of corrupt officials who are willing to help. He had these corrupt guards that worked in different forms, some simply turning a blind eye to Red’s business, or some even helping out with his business. “By the late sixties there was a booming trade in pills, and the same administrative crowd was involved in turning a buck on that.” (52) This proves how involved some of the administration was in the contraband dealings that went on in the prison, not just with Red, who was not involved with the pills, but with many of the other prisoners as well. With the guard’s low salary, gaining few bucks for a handgun was debatable for them. Although Red was probably not the only ‘guy who could get it for you’ in Shawshank, He says that “I do it for the same reason that a good butcher will only sell you fresh meat: I got a reputation and I want to keep it.
” (17) Red acknowledges his reputation multiple times, and how important it is for him to get these things to people, not just for him, but for the other prisoners, too. With his ranking in the prison with his “business” that is significant for red to live constrained in the prison. Andy’s hope in prison allowed him to “walk around that exercise yard as if it was a living room” (41) and “Andy wearing his freedom like an invisible coat, about how he never really developed a prison mentality” (42) Andy tells Red what he would do if he ever got out of prison, where he would go and how he would live his life.
“Get busy livin’, or get busy dying” (66) .This quote shows the audience why Andy started crafting rocks, it shows why he did everything. Even though he was in prison, Andy was busy trying to live; he would not let himself die. That is what he is trying to teach Red. Andy’s hope since day one when Andy asked Red to “smuggle Rita Hayworth into the prison for him” (2).
It took Red 20 years to realize that every prisoner does in fact need hope. That hope is the only thing that keeps everyone alive. It is Andy’s escape that broke through Red’s institutionalized way of thinking. It also showed Red that he should not let the prison get to him. It broke the prison’s grasp on Red and lets him realize that even though he is in prison, he is still a person. He should not let the prison control him and he should not think how the prison wants him to think.
Throughout the whole time, Red kept himself blocked from hope and dreams. His institutionalized way of thinking was preventing him from seeing that there is light at the end of the tunnel! Andy’s escape shows Red why everyone in prison still needs to have hope. Why it is okay for everyone to have dreams in prison, even when it is unlikely that they will ever happen. Without the hope and dreams that Andy had, he would have most likely given up and committed suicide a long time ago. It is Andy’s resolute sense of hope that Red admires.
Even after decades of being in the prison ” A sense of Andy’s own worth, maybe, or a feeling that Andy would be the winner in the end . . . or maybe it was only a sense of freedom, even inside these goddamned gray walls” (32)Shawshank was not just criminals that were in trying to feel bad about what they did, it was about having hope through situations like Andy where in this case he was innocent.