Study Guide

The Shawshank Redemption Sin

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WHAAA? In a prison full of hardened criminals and corrupt officers, a common theme is "sin?" We assume you're making your shocked face.

In Shawshank, everybody is guilty of at least a little sinnin'. Even Andy, the one innocent guy in the place, feels remorse for the way he behaved in his marriage, and feels he drove the missus away and indirectly got her killed. Then, of course, once he starts doing the warden's dirty work, he becomes an honest-to-goodness crook himself.

The good news for every sinner in the film is that redemption—if genuinely desired—is there for the taking. All you have to do is want it bad enough, and, you know, stop hurting people.

Questions About Sin

  1. Where do the warden's sins fall on the sin scale? Is what he did better or worse than a Shawshank inmate who committed murder?
  2. Andy may not have been the best husband, but did he really "sin" in his marriage? Is he being too hard on himself?
  3. The warden claims to be a very religious person. At the very least, he knows his Bible backwards and forwards. Does his supposed devotion to Christ absolve him of his wrongdoings?
  4. According to this film, for someone who sins and regrets their actions, what's worse—their imprisonment/punishment, or their inner, emotional turmoil?

Chew on This

With all the religious overtones, this entire story is actually a metaphor for a soul being damned to Hell (Shawshank), then going through purgatory (the sewer), and finally being allowed into Heaven (Zihuatanejo).

Red may have regretted what he did when he was younger, but he shouldn't have been released. He did the crime, so he should do the time.

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