The story of Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption starts in 1947 when Andy Dufresne arrives at Shawshank prison. Unlikely the other convicts Andy is not a hardened criminal. He is a soft-spoken banker convicted of killing his wife and her lover. Andy claims he is innocent. Soon after he arrives at the prison “The Sisters”, a gang of prison rapists led by Bogs Diamond, turn their attentions to Andy. The story is narrated by Red. He is “the guy who can get stuff. ” Red his well known for being able to get almost anything into Shawshank prison, and this is the reason that Andy approaches him.
Andy has kept himself to himself, but one day approaches Red in the exercise yard. Andy used to enjoy rock-carving, and wishes to continue to do so inside the prison, now that he has plenty of time on his hands. He asks Red to get him a rock hammer. Red is a little suspicious at first, thinking this may be a lethal object (which it is). However he understands Andy’s request a little more when the hammer arrives. Andy used the hammer to shape himself rocks he finds in the exercise yard. He is aiming to complete an entire chess set. Andy and Red develop a very respectful friendship.
After some time Andy comes into the movie theatre and asks Red to get him a poster of Rita Hayworth, who appears on the movie screen that Red is watching (This is the only reference to Rita Hayworth in the story). Red notices that Andy is uncharacteristically nervous and excited when asking for the poster. The prison agrees to provide prisons to tar the roof of a building. Obviously prisoners are keen to leave the prison even if it means hard labor. Red, being the influential man he is, discretely arranges for the guards to ensure that Red and his pals get the work detail.
Whilst on the roof Hadley, the chief of the guard, is telling the other guards how he has been left an inheritance by his wealthy brother. The other guards are enthusiastic for him, however Hadley complains about the tax he will have to pay on the inheritance. Andy approach’s Hadley, who nearly throws him off the roof. Buy Andy continues and explains that there is a loophole which allows Hadley to keep his entire inheritance, without paying tax. Andy offers to complete the paperwork in exchange for some beers for himself and his fellow work detail prisoners.
This is a major event in the story as Andy become well regarded with his inmate friends and the guards. As with his life outside, Andy becomes a successful financial advisor inside the prison. The prison employees use Andy to complete their tax returns, loan applications and other similar financial tasks. In return the guards get Andy protection from Bogs and the other Sisters. Andy is also able to occupy his cell on his own, unlike most other inmates. In the book Andy does share his cell briefly with an Indian called Normaden.
He soon leaves though, mentioning a “bad draft” in the cell whilst he was there. Normaden does not appear in the movie. In the movie all prisoners have their own cell. When Brooks the librarian is paroled, Andy takes over the librarian role. Andy sends weekly letters to the state senate asking for funds for books. The other inmates and guards think he is wasting his time. The state only spends prison money on bars, not books. Andy receives no response to his letters, until one day he does receive money (books in the movie). Andy then starts to write twice weekly.
Andy’s persistent work grows the library greatly. Andy helps several other inmates to get their high school diplomas and degrees. One of the many wardens in the novel (there is only one Warden, Norton, in the movie) starts a program called “Inside-Out”, in which inmates work outside the prison for very low wages. Other companies cannot compete with this low-cost labor, and often bribe warden Norton not to bid on contracts. This cash has to be laundered, and Andy does this for free, for continued protection in the prison, and the sake of the library.
A new prisoner called Tommy comes to Shawshank prison. Tommy tells another prisoner, who tells Andy, that Tommy had had a cellmate at a different prison who bragged about killing a rich golfer and some hot-shot banker’s wife, and the banker getting jailed for it. This is clearly the real killer of Andy’s wife. Andy sees the possibility of a new trial since this evidence would prove his innocence. Warden Norton dismisses the story, telling Andy to ignore this made up story. When Andy argues with him warden Norton sends Andy to solitary confinement, to remind Andy of his place in the prison hierarchy.
Norton interviews Tommy about the information he has. Norton is concerned about loosing Andy, and makes a deal with Tommy. Tommy will not talk of the information he has, and he gets transferred to a minimum security prison. In the movie Tommy is shot by guard Hadley. When Andy returns from solitary confinement he finds Tommy gone, along with any chance of Andy’s freedom. In Andy’s disappointed state he talks at length with Red. Andy tells Red of his dream of moving to Mexico, and settling in the small town of Zihuatanejo on the Pacific coastline.
Red starts to worry about Andy, stating that he is “talking funny. ” Andy tells Red of a town in Buxton in Maine, that was a special place for him and his wife. Andy tells Red that when he gets out of Shawshank, to locate a specific tree in a specific field in this town. Several weeks pass, and on one morning Andy is discovered missing at roll call. An initial search does not find Andy. The warden is looking in Andy’s cell when he discovers a poster covering the wall, now Raquel Welch.
The warden removes the poster and finds a man-sized tunnel cut through the walls of the prison. Andy had been spending his evenings, since getting his rock hammer, slowly digging through the prison walls. On the night of his escape, once through the prison walls, Andy broke into a sewage pipe and crawled 500 yards through it, and finally came out into a ditch beyond the grounds of Shawshank prison. Andy was free. A while after Red gets a blank postcard from a small town in Texas (McNary), near the U. S. -Meixco border.
Red knows this is Andy letting him know all is well, and he is heading to Mexico. Red is paroled and begins to make a life for himself outside of the prison. Red hick-hikes to Buxton, and finds the field and tree Andy has told him about. Red finds a buried tin, with a note from Andy, and a sum of money. Red violates his parole and catches a bus to Mexico, hoping to find his friend Andy. The novella ends here, but the movie has a final shot where we see Red waking across a sun drenched beach in Mexico, towards Andy who is working on his boat.