In Stephen King’s novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” hope, the key motivation for the inmates at Shawshank, gives them the will to live. Andy’s determination to maintain his own freedom and escape, keeps him from dying of frustration and anger in solitary confinement. Hope is the feeling you get when everything seems a blur, all escapes are blocked off, when the opponent has you in check, but within you, a will to defy the doubters and to be reborn from the ashes. Hope is the main motivation in lives of the prisoners but can be easily crushed by the prison system.
Toward the beginning of the novella, the reader first hears about Shawshank prison deciding to put money toward tarring the roof above the license-plate factory. Many inmates wanted to be on the work crew, Red describes why,
“It was almost as good as a week’s vacation, because instead of sweating it out in the laundry or brush some where out in the willywags, they were having a regular May holiday in the sun, just sitting there with their backs up against the low parapet, shooting the bull back and forth.”(pg.40) Shawshank prison put Red, Andy defresne and a couple other cons on the work crew. On one summer afternoon, while the guards where there, Andy defresne overheard a conversation on a tax issue between Byron Hadley, who is known for being an abusive guard to the inmates, and another guard. When Andy gives his two sense on the issue, Byron Hadley responds by lifting him, and dangling him over the roof. Just before dropping him off the three-story building, Andy explains his reasoning in a calm tone. As soon as Bryon Hadley released that this would benefit him, he placed him back on the roof.
The prison world is harsh and unforgiving. Inmates, like Red, have learned when to shut their mouths and walk away. That adaption has made them more suited in prison life and less in the real world. This shifts their minds from the hope of getting out to the hope of surviving the night. Even at the panicle of the scene, where Andy almost suffers fatal injury, Andy defresne manages to understand his optimism and transpire it to the other inmates by agreeing to do tax work for Bryon Hadley for a payment of three beers a con in his work crew.
Later in the novella, we are introduced to a young inmate named, Tommy Williams. In his life before Shawshank, he was at another prison. Where he had a cellmate, who was convicted of burglary and murder, that confessed to the murder that Andy defresne was convicted of. Andy later realizes that the story that Tommy Williams confessing was true. Andy goes to Norton, who is the warden of the prison, in hopes of reopening his case. Norton responds to Andy’s plead in a purely negative way by sending him to solitary confinement. Red describes solitary as,
“To get to Solitary Wing you were led down twenty-three steps into a basement level where only sound was the drip of water. The only light was supplied by a series of dangling sixty-watt bulbs. The cells were keg-shaped, like those wallsafes rich people sometimes hide behind pictures”(pg.69).
When Andy was released from solitary, Red described Andy as “changed” his hair turned gray, and his smile, went missing. His motivation and hope still remained. Every day he tried to renew his meeting with Norton, but Norton continually denies his request, stating that it was “counterproductive”. Later in the novel, Norton finally accepted Andy’s request, but only because of the annoyance that Andy’s continual requests caused him. In the meeting, Norton shoots down Andy, and tells him that his only witness, Tommy Williams, was no longer an inmate at Shawshank. After an exchange of remarks from Andy, he found himself back in solitary confinement.
This series of scenes gives us insight into Andy, as he evolves into life at Shawshank. At Andy’s climax of hope, when he realized the evidence he could stake for his case. Norton quickly tries to…