The Shawshank Redemption

Imagine being convicted for a double murder that you did not commit and then spending twenty years in prison. You would be forced to endure unimaginable horrors, not because you killed two people, but because, as the hero of theĀ The Shawshank Redemption puts it, you were a bad husband and drove your wife into the arms of another man.

This is the plot of The Shawshank Redemption. It is a story of unimaginable injustice and the eventual triumph of justice.

Andy Dufresne was convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. Though he proclaimed his innocence, he soon learned that everyone in Shawshank Prison was “innocent.” Except for Red, who acknowledged his guilt and soon became Andy’s best friend.

Despite the brutality that he endures, Andy refuses to give up. As he tells Red at one point, there is a certain part of him that nobody can touch. And Andy won’t let anyone take that part of him away.

Shawshank was filmed in my hometown long after I moved away. But in May 2017, I returned for a visit and toured the prison. It only made me love the movie more because it concretized the horrors that Andy had to endure.

I spent two hours touring the prison. The prison closed years ago and is now just a place for tourists to visit. There were no guards or prisoners present. But even with the absence of guards and prisoners, it was a demoralizing experience, even though I knew that I could leave any time I wanted. Andy didn’t have that choice. Yet, he refused to allow anyone to rob him of what was his–his life and his love it. That is the beauty of The Shawshank Redemption.

Nobody can take our virtue from us unless we allow them. As Red narrates near the end of the movie, Andy Dufresne crawled through unspeakable foulness and came out clean on the other end. When life seems difficult, Andy Dufresne and his unconquerable spirit is worth remembering. We can crawl through unspeakable foulness and come out clean on the other end. But we can do that only if we refuse to surrender our virtue.

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