The Shawshank Redemption and Sociology

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The movie “Shawshank Redemption” is a movie about the struggle of a man named Andy Dufresne, who is a banker in Maine that gets convicted of killing his wife and her lover. He claimed he was innocent, but because of his cold and sheltered personality no one believed that he was truly an innocent person, so he was given two life sentences at the Shawshank Prison. A month later Andy approaches another character who they call Red, and Red is the guy you go to in the prison when you need something from the outside world. Andy wanted a hammer to work on his rock collections. Red assumed this hammer was going to be used by Andy to escape, but once he saw the hammer he thought there was no way it was possible. Andy started working with laundry, but then he attracted the attention of certain guys, so he was beat and raped daily. Eventually he got the job of working on the roof with a several other men. He over hears the one guard talking about his taxes, so he offers to help him since he was a banker in his former life. Eventually he expands the prison library by getting the warden to allow him to write letters to the state asking for money to complete the project. Eventually he gets enough money that he turn the tiny room into a full sized library. He worked side by side with the character Brooks, who was one of the oldest inmates. He begins teaching the other prisoners because many of them never received their high school diploma and many of them wanted too. The one new inmate named Tommy became really close with Andy and they would tell each other many stories. The one story Tommy tells is the story about the person who killed Andy’s wife and lover. The guards find out that Tommy knows who really did it, so they killed him and told the other prisoners that he tried to escape. The one morning when they are called to wake up and they step out of their cells Andy is missing. Red later receives a post card in the mail with nothing on it and this makes him realize that Andy made it safely across the border. The whole movie discusses the struggles that Andy faces while in prison, and shows all the things he needed to do in order to escape the prison without being shot. The movie is filled with shocking events and show different types of sociology.

The first way that sociology is shown in the movie “Shawshank Redemption” is how Andy experiences culture shock. Culture shock in the book is shown as a confusion people may encounter when coming in contact with a different culture, and “can no longer depend on their taken-for-granted assumptions about life” (Henslin 37). Going from living a normal everyday life as a banker in Maine, to being forced to live in a prison would cause a sense of disorientation because joining a prison would be like joining a different culture. He could no longer assume anything because at any point in time the guards could decide that they do not like what he is doing and could beat him. Andy had to learn the new social norms of life inside of the prison, like not asking for food or when they will be receiving food, because if they had asked they learned rapidly that they would be punished, and being beaten was the common punishment. Subculture is defined as, “a world within the larger world of the dominant culture” (Henslin 48). The Shawshank Prison is considered a subculture because the related behaviors of the prisoners, like murder, distinguishes the members from the larger culture that they are normally from. The guards are like the law of the outside culture and the inmates are the normal people. All the members in the prison did something wrong or were accused of something wrong, so they were put into the same place. The Shawshank Prison could also be considered a total institution. A total institution is defined as, “a place that is almost totally controlled by those who run it, in which people are cut off from the rest of society and the society is mostly cut off from them” (Henslin 82). The guards...
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