Study Guide

The Shawshank Redemption Dreams, Hopes and Plans

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Dreams, Hopes and Plans

RED: You could argue he'd done it to curry favor with the guards. Or maybe make a few friends among us cons. Me, I think he did it just to feel normal again, if only for a short while.

Andy's got some pretty big plans when it comes to the long-term. That doesn't mean he's entirely focused on the distant future, though. He realizes that it's just as important to hold onto hope in tiny doses as well. Like when he convinces Hadley to give his work crew a few beers, or when he makes a huge sacrifice—a little time in The Hole for the chance to blast some opera across the PA system.

RED: They send you here for life, and that's just what they take.

Ouch. Touché.

Red is only speaking for himself here though. Andy wouldn't have agreed with him on this point, since he was never going to let Shawshank—nor the guards, nor the warden—get the best of him. Though Red may have spoken those words, they weren't actually true. He may have thought it was all over for him at the time, but in the last fifteen minutes of the movie we discover that he has a little life left in him after all.

RED: I tell you, those voices soared. Higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free.

It makes sense that Andy would have enjoyed a few minutes of the record, considering he's the one who picked it out and put it on the record player. However, was it surprising at all that Red and the other inmates, who probably weren't huge opera buffs, seemed moved by it as well? The message seems to be that only free men would be able to have that experience, and that's what Andy wanted to give them.

Would it have killed those women to sing a few words in English?

ANDY: You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory. That's where I'd like to finish out my life, Red. A warm place with no memory.

This is Andy's greatest dream, and what has kept him moving forward for all these years. He isn't just holding onto some vague idea of freedom. He knows exactly what he wants, and exactly where he intends to be.

Like anything else in life, you're more likely to succeed when you have a specific goal in mind to drive you. For example, if Andy's line of thinking had instead been, "Maybe I'd hit up a beach or two? Learn how to surf? Or just bum around my apartment? I dunno", we doubt he ever would have gotten out of that place.

ANDY: I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.

This is by far the most famous line from the movie, and with good reason. It totally sums up the choice Andy was forced to make when he found himself in a torturous, horribly unfair situation. He could have folded himself into the fetal position and waited for the Grim Reaper to come a-calling, or he could lift himself up and try to win himself a bit of justice. That's hope.

We're glad he went with Option B. Two hours of a man lying huddled on a cell floor would have been rough.

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