REPS Recommends… Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption

Abigail Cramer is the Librarian/Archivist at Historic New England, a member of the REPS steering committee, and a member of a handful of NEA Program Committees. Abby received her MLIS from Simmons College in 2012 and has a B.A. in English. She loves reading, loves her profession, and especially loves it when the two overlap.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Different Seasons
Image credit: Goodreads.com

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption is one of four stories in Different Seasons by Stephen King. You’ve probably heard of and/or seen the film adaptation, The Shawshank Redemption, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. The movie is great, but I love the novella even more.

The book is narrated by Red, an inmate in a prison who volunteers in the prison library. We learn, somewhat tangentially, that Red has helped a number of inmates through his work in the library, including helping people appeal court decisions and research legal issues. He’s also responsible for providing recreational reading material to the inmates, and one of the subtle themes of the story is the power of the written word in inspiring and helping those in need. That’s not really the point of the story, however, although it is the excuse I’ve used to include the story in this blog. 😉

The story is actually about the attempt by a fellow inmate to escape. He claims, as all the inmates do, that he was wrongfully imprisoned. The reader learns the truth of his story, and in the end roots for him. This is really a story about the power of hope in the face of wrongdoing, and it’s actually this theme that makes me so much more a fan of the novella than the movie. The endings of the two are only slightly different, but they make a world of difference in the final message. The movie ends (don’t worry, no spoilers) with a thorough resolution. The end is the end, and you know exactly what happened. The book is less final, ending on a hopeful note rather than a final resolution, which reinforces the theme of hope and positive expectation for the future. It’s an uplifting story, plus it’s clever and sneaky in all the right ways. I recommend reading the novella if you’ve only seen the movie, and I highly recommend doing both if you’ve never done either. And keep your eye out for the prison library!

What do you think about Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption? Tell us below!

Explore other REPS RecommendationsInterested in recommending something? Contact Abby (abigail.cramer[at]gmail.com).

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