Stephen King and Hope: Religion in Shawshank

There are few things in life that make me cry. The movie based on Stephen King‘s famous novel, The Shawshank Redemption, does it every time. It is hard, and maybe irresponsible, not to notice King’s critique of the American justice system which I think to be spot on.

From the time I was eleven until I was eighteen years old, I spent several Saturdays and Sundays a the federal penitentiary in Butner, NC. That was where my dad lived for a while, and although I only saw a glimpse of the system, you could tell it was truly hell on each face during visitation. What is even harder to watch is the what happens when prisoners are released, when the slaves are set free. More often than not, the world consumes these men and women without regard. Trust me. I have seen it.

There is one scene of The Shawshank Redemption that stands out it my mind. After the main character, Andy, get solitary confinement for two weeks for playing a record over the intercom in the warden’s office, he comes to sit down at the lunch table with all his friends. One inmate asked Andy if they let him take record player to “the hole” with him. He said no, and that although they can take the record player, they can never take the music from his heart. Someone makes the comment, “who cares about music? Why should we remembered music at all?” This is the conversation that follows:

Andy: So you don’t forget… forget that there are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. It’s yours. 

Red: What are you talking about? 

Andy: Hope. 

Red: Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You better get used to that idea.

Andy: Like Brooks did?

We all need to remember that there is more than stone and concrete in the world. We need to remember hope. Or we can take the opinion of Red, and forget about hope and give up. You may be asking yourself, “who is this ‘Brooks’ character?” I let you find out that for yourself.

2 thoughts on “Stephen King and Hope: Religion in Shawshank

  1. Pingback: At last, I’ve finished another Stephen King novel! | The Life and Times of Marcus P.

  2. Josh, “Shawshank”–as my friend Jim and I call it, is one of my favorite movies of all time. When that song goes blasting through the prison yard and all of those hardened men turn and remain motionless…..well, it’s one of the most moving moments in any movie I’ve seen.

    Great post, my friend.

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