Research paper on The category of “time” in “Different Seasons” by Stephen King and the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”

Works of Stephen King remind a riddle, as they are sometimes comprised of totally incompatible parts, but somehow create an image of completeness. He was named “the King of Horror” by critics and readers. Stephen King is undoubtedly a good psychologist who can touch the most subtle corners of human soul in the search of fear. He gives details of American life in many of his works, including “Different Seasons”. In order to attract readers, King creates an atmosphere which is close to common life of common people. In such a way, the author creates a full picture of contemporary society with all its drawbacks and contradictions. The majority of his works belongs to horror and mystery, or combines both genres. However, critics rarely discuss the category of “time” in his works, many of which were adapted into films. This research is dedicated to the “time” category in the book of Stephen King “Different Seasons” and the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” based on the book.

According to the New York Times, King is one of the most popular writers of our epoch (“New York Times”). The above stated work of Stephen King became popular among readers due to a successfully done screen version which has been highly appreciated. The movie leaves an unforgettable impression and raises a lawful question whether its success is explained by the creativity of the film director or the talent of the writer whose book became a basis for the movie. From the very first pages of the book, it becomes evident that such style of writing is not typical for King (Collings, 16). The narrator is neither the author, nor the main character. It is the best friend of the main hero ”“ a black man with the nickname Red, or “the man who can get it” (King, 61). The real name of Red is not mentioned, which is also a characteristic feature of the book. As a character Red plays an important role in the development of the “time” theme and the plot line in the work of King.

It is important to mention that both the plot line and the “time” theme are untypical. The spatiotemporal model of King’s books is usually fractured. As a rule, the author may turn from one place to other both in the past and future of his narration, doing it quite unexpectedly. The work “Different Seasons” is characterized by a totally different tendency. The fiction time coincides with the physical time to full extent. And it is limited by a certain space inside a prison, where time flows the way it flows for the accused. There are wars going on and Presidents changing, together with the film and music stars. And all this is happening outside Shawshank, while inside everything is quite monotonous and boring. Only the posters of stars are changing on the walls of Andy Dufresne, the main hero of the novel.

As for the movie, the situation is quite the same. Inside the prison time goes by the same way, while freedom is viewed as something fearful for some prisoners. Others view freedom as a hope to live a new life. It is curious to note that the poster in the book is an ambivalent image. On the one hand, it is the only indicator of the time changes in the outer world. On the other hand, it is an almost invisible line between the prison and freedom, as the Andy’s tunnel was located exactly behind the poster.

The movie and the book have much in common in relation to the time perception of the prisoners. Red sympathized with Andy from the very beginning. It is clear that the author literally worships the determination of the main hero (Lehmann-Haupt, 26). In the course of time, people who found themselves in Shawshank usually behaved inadequately. The main hero, however, haven’t uttered a sound in the night of his imprisonment. As time goes by we can see that the narration is not as lineal as it seems in the beginning. The author sometimes plunges into certain events that happened in the past. It is commonly known as a flashback and is a characteristic feature of both the book and the movie. From time to time the readers go back to something that took place long ago. Such time effect became very popular among contemporary film directors. Maybe exactly for this reason the “Different Seasons” book was easy to screen as a movie. And in relation to “time” category, there are almost no differences between the book and the movie, although certain discrepancies will be analyzed below.

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