Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption

October 22, 2011

By John Hallal

About the Author: John Hallal, a Partner at the Andover, Massachusetts-based Acceleration Law Group, also serves the business consulting firm Network Blue, Inc., as Managing Director and Babson College as an Adjunct Lecturer. Mr. Hallal ranks John Irving, Dennis Lehane, and Stephen King among his favorite authors.

One of my favorite stories is a novella called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, which was subsequently made into a very popular movie, The Shawshank Redemption. The story of a banker wrongly convicted of the murder of his wife and her lover and sentenced to two life terms, it explores a number of issues, including friendship, the depths to which some people will sink in taking advantage of others, and man’s indomitable will to survive. The author of the novella, Stephen King, is well-known worldwide as a prolific writer of stories of horror and the supernatural.

Almost three dozen of his works have been made into movies, including such classics as The Shining, Carrie, Misery, and The Green Mile. King authored Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption in 1982 as part of a collection of four stories titled Different Seasons. In an unusual departure from King’s regular style, none of the four tales are horror stories, although one, The Breathing Method, employs a supernatural twist at the end.

Two of the book’s other stories also were made into movies, The Body (under the title Stand By Me), and Apt Pupil. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, like the movie it was made into, received overwhelming critical acclaim; some critics hailed the story as King’s “greatest work,” and the movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards. The story centers on Andy, a banker who enters prison as a relatively young man and befriends another prisoner, Red, also sentenced to life. As their friendship develops over the years, Andy uses his impressive knowledge of tax code and accounting to make himself a valuable resource to the guards and the corrupt warden.

When evidence surfaces proving Andy’s innocence, the warden squelches it, determined to keep Andy in prison as his unwilling accountant. Andy’s escape after decades in prison through a hole laboriously carved in a stone wall that was concealed through the years by posters of famous actresses, starting with Rita Hayworth, is a testimony to the value of patience and determination. It perfectly illustrates one of my favorite quotes by Winston Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

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