Study Guide

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption Secrets

By Stephen King


"What was right with him he'd only give you a little at a time. What was wrong with him he kept bottled up inside." (20)

Right out of the gate, we learn that Andy keeps secrets, and that this trait has lead to some pretty heavy consequences in his life. This helps establish his character, and sets us up for some surprising developments yet to come.

"He looked up at Bogs, smiling that little smile of his, old Ernie said, as if the three of them had been discussing stocks and bonds with him instead of throwing it to him just as hard as they could." (99)

Red mentions Andy's smile a lot. It's a smile that hides things, a smile that says "I know something you don't know." The whole book might just be an effort to find out what makes Andy smile the way he does—something so good that even prison can't wipe it off his face.

"Bogs was found in his cell, badly beaten, one morning in early June, when he didn't show up in the breakfast nose-count. He wouldn't say who had done it, or how they had gotten to him." (103)

An important part of every secret is trusting that whatever it is, it'll stay secret. We never find out who dropped the Hammer on Bogs. Red voices suspicions, but he leaves it there: Just another secret for all of us to ponder.

"Rita is dressed-sort of-in a bathing suit, one hand behind her head, her eyes half closed, those full, sulky red lips parted. They called it Rita Hayworth, but they might as well have called it Woman in Heat." (126)

In a lot of ways, Andy's posters are the most secretive figures in the whole book. Rita's especially important because she played a lot of femme fatales in the movies—girls with secrets who were awfully dangerous when those secrets came to life. This is quite fitting considering the type of secret this poster is hiding.

"Andy Dufresne was his right hand in all of this, his silent partner." (227)

Take note of the use of the word "silent" here. Andy doesn't just keep secrets of his own—he keeps Warden Norton's too (and probably a lot of others we don't know about).

"Somewhere along the base of that wall is a rock that has no business in a Maine hayfield." (364)

In many ways, the lava rock symbolizes secrecy. The rock isn't actually talking, but it's definitely hiding something big—something that nobody sees or notices for over thirty years.

"'Wretched thing!' he grunted, and ripped the poster from the wall with a single swipe of his hand. And revealed the gaping, crumbled hole in the concrete behind it." (428-429)

As we said before, the pin-up gals have secrets of their own, which in this case happens to be the biggest secret in the whole darn book

"I saw him stoop, pick up a pebble and it disappeared up his sleeve. That inside sleeve-pocket is an old prison trick. Up your sleeve or just inside the cuff of your pants. " (477)

King seems to be suggesting that secrets and secrecy are a common part of daily life as a prisoner, despite the fact that you spent your entire day under the careful and corrupt watch of different guards,

"'I think you remember the name of the town, don't you?'" (525)

The pay-off for secrecy comes when Andy can hint to Red about where he's escaped without actually spilling the beans. Not so fast, coppers!