Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption Friendship
By Stephen King
"He dealt himself one drink Christmas night and another on New Year's Eve. Then that one would also come to me with instructions to pass it on." (22)
Red notices Andy's generosity early on when he buys an expensive bottle of booze and gives most of it to the other inmates. That generosity—which we're betting is pretty darn rare in Shawshank—is the first indication that Andy might make a great friend.
"I never felt really close to Andy until 1960 or so, and I believe I was the only one who ever did get really close to him." (32)
Red gets close to Andy and he's Andy's only friend, but we never really learn why. Red's pretty tight-lipped as a narrator. That means we have to infer certain aspects of their friendship, but it also makes those moments when they express their friendship hit you like a jackhammer. We'll get to some of them in a jiffy.
"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." (136)
Look at the subtlety here. Red doesn't say "Andy's a great pal." Instead, he mentions that Andy spends all kinds of time polishing some stones for him. It's the effort that signals friendship, not just "he's a great pal." Way to pick up on the unspoken camaraderie, Red!
"In 1967 I got him a new rock-hammer-the one I'd gotten him nineteen years ago had plumb worn out. Nineteen years!" (312)
Red goes out of his way to buy him a new rock hammer. Real friendship means helping your buddy tunnel out of prison.
"'You know, Red,' he said in an offhand voice, 'a place like that I'd have to have a man who knows how to get things.' " (370)
Here's that subtlety we've been talking about again. Andy doesn't come out and say "I really want you at my hotel, buddy," he just says he needs a man who knows how to get things. Red knows what he means and who he's talking about, and they don't have to say anything more. Quiet, understated, and really heartfelt.
"Andy was the part of me they could never lock up, the part of me that will rejoice when the gates finally open for me and I walk out in my cheap suit with my twenty dollars of mad-money in my pocket." (504)
This quote tells us that Andy and Red are basically BFFs. #jealous.
"I began to think about stealing some money or shoplifting stuff from the FoodWay, anything, to get back in where it was quiet and you knew everything that was going to come up in the course of the day. If I had never known Andy, I probably would have done that." (515-516)
Again, we see just how much Andy means to Red. It's a simple statement—but we definitely see the mountains of feeling behind it.
"And if I did find the right one, I might never know it. Because I might overlook that black piece of volcanic glass, or, much more likely, Andy put it into his pocket and took it with him." (517)
Red's pretty paranoid about getting caught when he finds Andy's note. He worries over this while looking for the volcanic glass, just like Andy worried about whether the key would still be there before he got out. The two friends seem to be going on a parallel journey here.
"It was an envelope, carefully wrapped in a plastic bag to keep away the damp. My name was written across the front in Andy's clear script." (523)
We said somewhere earlier that real friendship means helping you tunnel out of prison. Scratch that. Real friendship means leaving a note that anyone could find and assuming that your buddy is somehow going to get to it.
"I hope to see my friend and shake his hand." (543)
Simple, straightforward, and getting right to the point; a great way to end the book.