What message does the ending of "Shawshank Redemption" send to society?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The messages from King's works are fairly powerful.  One theme is the idea that hope is something that is worthy of fight and defense.  Red believes that hope is something that is antithetical to one's survival.  His relationship with Andy is one that allows him to understand the importance and power of hope and belief in something outside of what is.  Another theme that comes out of the work is the humanity needed to view all human beings.  The idea of prisoners being demonized is rebutted by the work.  Prisoners are depicted as any human being, filled with moments of dignity and moments of revulsion.  In the final analysis, the depiction of prisoners is one tempered with the brush of humanity.  In my mind, the final theme of the work is the idea of reflection being critical to one's state of being.  Between Andy and Red, their time in prison is marked by the idea of reflection on the arc of their lives to better understand both their mistakes as well as the potential to living a better life in what is left.  Both characters' ability to reflect on their lives helps bring to light the idea that individuals gain much more when they are able to better understand their actions and the impact caused upon the larger social setting.