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 What does Red infer about the way the prison is run, and why is this important to the...

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lulu-1222 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted July 20, 2009 at 4:50 PM via web

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 What does Red infer about the way the prison is run, and why is this important to the story? This is another theme, what do you think it is?

in the novella" Rita hayworth and the Shawahank Redemption" Red tells us that the prison administration knows about things like posters and the things he gets inmates, why do they let him stay in business? What does Red infer about the way the prison is run, and why is this important to the story? This is another theme, what do you think it is?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 20, 2009 at 9:20 PM (Answer #1)

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I believe that Red feels the establishment allows him to do the things he does because it is a way of placating the prisoners and diverts them from the critical issues that cause trouble for the prison authority.  For example, if a prisoner is concerned with getting a pack of cigarettes or the latest magazine, this allow them to engage in a diversion.  The prisoner is not asking questions of the authority, such as opportunities for career counseling, rehabilitation, or the building of a library the further the education of the prisoner population.  Rather, they are merely concerned with "lower end" activities which prevent them from asking authority the questions that would allow a transformative notion of power.  Red understands that prison life represents exactly what is taken from each of them:  Life.  In allowing Red to do what he does, the establishment benefits for it "puts the prisoners to sleep," and does not allow them to ask the critical questions that a prisoner like Andy does.  It is a way for the authority figures to control prisoners' bodies as well as minds, the ultimate exercise of power.  The author is making a point through Red and his perceptions of why the authority structure allows him to operate that prison life may have physical control over one's body, but the indiviual has the power to be able to control their own mind.  In this sense, even the powerless possesses a critical component of power.

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