Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption: A Review

Here is where I will state the obvious: I’ve put Heart of Darkness on the back-burner for now.  The draft is still hanging on, and one of these days I’ll re-read and review Conrad’s work.  Instead, I’ll be writing my reviews on texts that I’ve actually read, and hence I’ll be reviewing Stephen King’s novella.  I’ve started reading Different Seasons at the end of the semester, and so far I’m almost done with Apt Pupil, which you’ll also see a review on soon.

Now without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here are my afterthoughts on Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption!

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(I was originally going to add an animated gif of shirtless Tim Robbins extending his arms to the heavens in the rain, but it is understood that some may be sensitive to the lightning flashes.  So instead, here is an artist’s rendition of the scene)

If you’re not somewhat familiar with the plot of Shawshank (be it the book or the movie), it is about a prison break.

To recap, the novella is narrated by a man known as ‘Red’, and he is pretty much a merchant within the Shawshank State Penitentiary, getting contraband goods for fellow prisoners.  Though, it isn’t Red that does the escaping but rather a man called Andy Dufresne, who was sentenced for a double murder.  Andy thinks up of a way to escape Shawshank — a task deemed by many to be impossible. He enlists the help of Red to obtain a rock hammer and a poster of Rita Hayworth.  Additionally, this isn’t a narrative about prison without the tough, cold-hearted prison guards and the equally tough, cold-hearted prisoners that aim to bugger you to near kingdom come.  Through the eyes of Red, we see a glimpse of life in The Can, as well as the friendship between him and Andy, and the problems faced while being in Shawshank.

The writing in this novella is the typical Stephen King style; not extravagant, not purple, and not poetic.  It may be that I’m biased because I like Stephen King’s works (well, except for Rose Madder, which I did not finish for a few reasons), but I quite enjoyed this novella.  However, if you’re a sucker for narratives with a linear timeline, Shawshank may keep your eyes spinning.  This is because technically, this novella is Red’s account of events and he wrote everything on a paper pad.  While he mostly writes about Andy and the prison escape plan, there are times that Red would reflect on other occurrences; therefore, the story jumps around from present time to the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

We’re all rooting for Andy here, because, God bless the guy.  He was an accountant that was also fond of rocks.  Red is the standard, nonchalant anti-hero and is the foil to Andy’s supposed virtuousness.  King writes the characters so that the likeable characters are likeable, and the unlikeable characters are unlikeable.

As always, this is a work of fiction, and how a guy managed to hammer a tunnel through a thick prison wall without detection leaves me scratching my head.  Perhaps the guards did a shitty job (or Red left out the part that the guards were silently protesting low wages)?  Did the other prisoners go to sleep with earplugs in as good ol’ Andy hacked away at a hard material such as stone?  Then again, I did read this novella with a suspension of disbelief, but with good reason.  If Stephen King can convince me that there are killer clown entities and evil writer alter-egos coming to life, then he can easily write about a guy doing the “impossible” by escaping prison the way that Andy did.

So that’s my two cents on Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.  Stay tuned for future reviews on the novellas that feature in Different Seasons, and I’ll see you in the next post!

Keep on readin’, folks!

new siggie again

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