This is the book that led to the movie which I watched so many times that I
could mimic Red, Norton, Andy, and even Hadley from the silver screen. I
borrowed the slim volume to have a taste of Stephen King's writing (other than
his On Writing) and, in the past two weeks, found much to dig. Here are Red's
thoughts on a set of cufflink-worthy products from Andy,
How much work went into creating those two pieces? Hours and hours after
lights-out, I knew that. First the chipping and shaping, and then the almost
endless polishing and finishing with those rock-blankets. Looking at them, I
felt the warmth that any man or woman feels when he or she is looking at
something pretty...and I felt something else, too. A sense of awe for the
man's brute persistence. But I never knew just how persistent Andy Dufresne
could be until much later.
Out of prison at 58, Red worked as an age-ing bag-boy at a grocery store:
It was the toughest adjustment I've ever had to make, and I haven't finished
making it yet...not by a long way.
That and the following passages made me think about what the old country did to
my dad and, to a lesser degree, me, and my immigration experience.
My boss didn't like me. He was a young guy, twenty-six or -seven, and I
could see that I sort of disgusted him, the way a cringing, servile old dog
that crawls up to you on its belly to be petted will disgust a man. Christ,
I disgusted myself. But...I couldn't make myself stop. I wanted to tell him:
That's what a whole life in prison does for you, young man. It turns
everyone in a position of authority into a master, and you into every
master's dog. Maybe you know you've become a dog, even in prison, but since
everyone else in gray is a dog, too, it doesn't seem to matter so much.
Outside, it does.
But all is not hopeless. Here is how Red's memory of his friend kept him from
breaking parole and going back to prison
So I'd agree with you. A fool's errand, no doubt about it. A fool's
errand...but so is chipping at a blank concrete wall for twenty-seven years.
My new hobby was looking for Andy's rock.
It reminded me of my dictionary reading project and occasional doubts.
I couldn't help comparing the two ways the story was told. I get laughs and
thrills from the film, even today. But printed words always have a way of getting
to me. For inspiration and a tasty bowl of verbal soup, I would read the book.