Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption Summary

Stephen King

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

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Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption Summary

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“Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption: Hope Springs Eternal” is one of four novellas that comprise Stephen King’s 1982 collection,Different Seasons. The other three novellas are “Apt Pupil: Summer of Corruption,”“The Body: Fall From Innocence,” and “The Breathing Method: A Winter’s Tale.”“Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” is based onLeo Tolstoy’sshort story“God Sees the Truth, but Waits.” The novellas in Different Seasons lean more toward the dramatic mainstream than to King’s trademark horror tales.

The novella is set at the Shawshank Prison and opens in 1947. The narrator is Red, an inmate serving life at Shawshank for having accidentally killed two additional people when he murdered his wife by tampering with the breaks of her car. Andy Dufresne’s arrival to begin his life sentence marks the beginning of changes for the inmates at Shawshank. Andy was found guilty of murder in the deaths of his wife, Linda, and tennis pro Glenn Quentin, who was her lover. The evidence against Andy is overwhelming, yet he unwaveringly asserts that he is innocent. In time, Red believes Andy. Andy’s adjustment to the life of an inmate is not easy. Others look down on him, feeling he is a snob. Guards turn a blind eye when he is raped by a group of inmates known as the Sisters. Andy fights back against the Sisters but always comes out injured, and is, at times, placed in solitary confinement. Somehow though, Andy does not break.

Early in his time at Shawshank, when Andy learns that Red is able to procure various items, he asks if he is able to get him a rock hammer, saying rock collecting and carving is a hobby of his. He also asks for cloths to polish with, and a poster of the actress Rita Hayworth. Years go by and Andy and Red join a work detail that is applying new tar to the roof of the prison’s license plate factory. Hearing Byron Hadley, one of the guards, complaining about the taxes he will owe on an inheritance,Andy offers advice that will help Hadley lessen the tax bite. In exchange for beers for the inmates working on the crew, Andy offers to do the necessary tax paperwork for the guard, who after some thought, agrees. This event serves to change the view the other inmates have of Andy, and he earns their respect. Moreover, he becomes a resource for others who run the prison, helping them with financial issues.

Andy finds himself being protected from the Sisters by the warden and the guards. He is given the post of prison librarian and a single person cell rather than having to live with other inmates. For years, Andy works to improve and expand the library. As for his financial expertise, initially he was used to fill out tax returns for the guards. Eventually, he is used to launder money for numerous wardens, including Samuel Norton, who proclaims to be religious, and is on the take with construction companies. It does not trouble Andy to be helping with a money laundering operation, but unwittingly, by knowing so much, he makes it likely that he will never be permitted to leave Shawshank.

Eventually, Andy learns from a new inmate Tommy Williams that a prisoner named Elwood Blatch,whom Williams met at another facility, admitted to killing Glenn Quentin. Andy requests a retrial but, instead, is put in solitary confinement by Norton for a month. Tommy Williams is transferred to another facility in short order, as Norton fears exposure of his illegal acts if Andy is paroled. Andy eventually gives up and falls into a depression. When Andy’s mood lightens, he tells Red that he has a false identity that a friend set up for him. In addition, the friend invested some of Andy’s money wisely, and it has grown to well over three hundred thousand dollars. The money, he tells Red, is stashed in a deposit box at a bank and that the key to the box is hidden under a black rock in a stone wall not far from the prison. Andy imagines himself under his new identity opening a hotel in Mexico and Red going with him.

Red does not give much heed to Andy’s story until many years later, when one morning, Andy’s cell is empty. A search of the cell turns up nothing out of the ordinary, until Norton looks behind the poster of Rita Hayworth where a hole appears in the cement wall. Red realizes that for all those years, Andy has been using the rock hammer at night to carve the hole. A search fails to find Andy, and Norton soon resigns. Red does not hear from Andy, but does receive a postcard, with no message, from a town in southern Texas. Andy’s escape becomes a sign of hope for the other prisoners. Red is released from Shawshank a year later.He finds adjusting to life on the outside challenging, but thinks of Andy when he is tempted to do the wrong thing. When he has time off from his job at a local supermarket, Red searches for the black rock that Andy told him about. It takes several weeks, but eventually, he locates it. Under the rock is a letter from Peter Stevens, Andy’s assumed name. With the letter is a thousand dollars. The story ends with Red violating his parole to head to Mexico in search of Andy.