Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2021

Hope Is A Dangerous Thing

1A FEW NIGHTS AGO we were watching “The Shawshank Redemption.” It is on my personal “Top Ten List” of favorite movies – and I am very picky about what films make it onto that list.

In the obligatory After Movie Discussion, my wife, the lovely and equally picky, Dawn, and I asked each other, “What is the overarching theme of the movie?” There were a number of possible answers to that question.

Was it about Revenge? It was, but only momentarily. Loneliness? Or was it about the effects on a person of prolonged confinement? Or was it just about Survival?

After much talk, and several beverage refills, we decided that the answer was Hope. 2Hope that can be lost and found again. Hope that can be given and then snatched away. Hope that is both the carrot and the stick.

Hope is what has the person stranded on a deserted island scanning the horizon for rescue, year after year.

Hope is what has the painfully shy teenage boy dreaming that the prettiest girl in school might say “Yes” and be his date for the Prom.

Hope is what drives the engine of the lonely soul.

In “The Shawshank Redemption” the two lead characters have hope that comes and goes. In the prison yard there are hundreds of people brought together by circumstance, but they are all there by themselves – as alone as if they were adrift in a lifeboat on the ocean. No place can be more lonely than a crowd.

4For “Red,” played by Morgan Freeman, there was the hope for parole, but after forty years that hope had been replaced by the fear that he would be eventually released into a world as alien to him as Mars. Red had stopped hoping.

“Andy Dufresne,” brought to life by Tim Robbins, a man falsely imprisoned, had hope come and go over time as well. It was dangled in front of him, so close he could taste it, and then it was savagely taken away.

I see it that the hope that comes back to both men was not for revenge or to be reunited with their families, but to be alone – but on their own terms. Decades in prison with the constant clamor of people in agony had made quiet something to be dreamt about. Their hope was to be gone from that prison to a place where they don’t have to hear someone screaming or crying.

If you have ever been inside a jail cellblock you would instantly understand. It is a place filled with cries of anguish or insanity twenty-four hours a day.3

Inside Shawshank, with their hope restored, Andy and Red were able to see a real future instead of just an endless string of Todays.

Andy’s hope was to be on a beach in Mexico where he could find a small boat to restore so he could sail out on the ocean. Other things could wait, but first he wanted quiet and solitude – on his terms.

Andy made a gift of these two things to Red, whose was given his parole only after he had lost all hope.

5Hope is what makes the next breath possible. It is what heals the thousand small cuts of living. Hope is what dries our tears at night


The closing shot in the film is of these two survivors hugging each other on that Mexican beach. Two men alone and together by choice. Two men alive because of Hope.


Single Post Navigation

One thought on “Hope Is A Dangerous Thing

  1. I’ve seen that movie three times. I agree. And by the way, it’s refreshing to see a serious mood in this column today. Personally, I like the writings that have humor throughout, but a serious change concerning an interesting subject is nice once in awhile. I notice you only mention “Survival” one time. “Hope” in a prison is the one thing usually considered the main theme, whether in a movie or just conversation. I believe Hope and Survival have to go together, as one. My Father was Warden of the Illinois State Penitentiary Menard, near Chester, IL, for a number of years. I spent numerous hours visiting with him. (Especially at lunch time. Outstanding meals.) I wandered the yard, with his Chief Captain, talked with men I knew from the County I grew up in, mingled with men I didn’t know but liked talking to someone from “the outside”. Lifers, short-timers, all kinds. Even a couple of guys I was principally responsible for them being there, and certainly more than I cared for of men that Dad had been responsible for them being there! I came out of that experience believing Hope and Survival were the two main things in their minds, and present in their actions every day. There’s much more. Maybe some other time. Thanks, John, for more memories from, the days .


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: