Study Guide

Byron Hadley in Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption

By Stephen King

Byron Hadley

The Bully

Speaking of corruption… Bryon is one of the guards at Shawshank prison. He remains in his position longer than some of the wardens and shares in plenty of the corruption. He's "a tall, shambling man with thinning red hair. He sunburned easily and he talked loud and if you didn't move fast enough to suit him, he'd clout you with his stick" (143). That's about all we need to hear about him: big, dumb, kind of mean, oh, and also bigoted.

"If you're Jewing me somehow, you're gonna find yourself chasing your head around Shower C before the week's out." (188)

Stay classy, Hadley.

Hadley's kind of a schoolyard bully, but grown up and in a position of actual power. He has a job where he's free to hurt people who can't really fight back, and he's not afraid of letting people know. With Hadley, we can see that his thievery and corruption are little more than stealing people's milk money. King always had a knack for developing bullies as characters, getting to the bottom of why we hate them, how they get away with their behavior, and why their existence seems to be an insult to every notion of justice and fair play.

Hadley is a prime example of a bully, which explains why when Andy puts him in his place on that roof, it feels all the sweeter. We don't need a lot of background to explain Hadley's jerkiness, or how it makes Shawshank that much worse as a result.

Hadley and his inheritance foreshadow Andy's larger money laundering operations in Shawshank, and serves as a stepping-stone between Andy and the higher-ups in the prison. We don't see much of him after the beer incident (he plays a bigger role in the movie), but he's basically done his job as far as the plot goes. Authority figures are criminals in Shawshank, too: they're just better at hiding it than the prisoners.