I'm wondering how did Andy write the letter to Red before actually going to prison in The Shawshank Redemption? He tells Red how to find it and tells him about the black rock, so from what I understand he wrote the letter before going to prison. However he couldn't possibly have known Red. So I want to know when was the letter actually written?

2 Answers 2


No. He actually didn't write Red the letter from or before prison, but after he ran away from the prison.

You must have gotten confused when Andy told Red to find the black rock and the letter. Actually, he accomplished that after getting free from the prison. There was significant time between Andy breaking out and Red getting freed. One can easily write a letter in that time.

Though, he well remembers that place because Andy asked his wife to marry him at that place.

ANDY: Red, if you ever get out of here, do me a favor. There's this big hayfield up near Buxton. You know where Buxton is?

RED: (nods) Lots of hayfields there.

ANDY: One in particular. Got a long rock wall with a big oak at the north end. Like something out of a Robert Frost poem. It's where I asked my wife to marry me. We'd gone for a picnic. We made love under that tree. I asked and she said yes.

ANDY: (continues) Promise me, Red. If you ever get out, find that spot. In the base of that wall you'll find a rock that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield. A piece of black volcanic glass. You'll find something buried under it I want you to have.

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    @Pharap "if (not black rock at tree) then {find another black rock; move black rock to tree;}". Also, usually people does not move rocks without a good reason. A more reasonable fear would be that the tree had died in the meantime and the farmer had uprooted the trunk.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 19:23
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    @SJuan76 I beg to differ, children regularly pick up rocks for fun, and someone who saw a black volcanic rock in a hayfield would might well pick it up out of interest. Some people even collect unusual rocks. Though admittedly the tree could have been cut down so something else could be planted in its place or it could be used for firewood (though I don't know how cold it gets in Maine).
    – Pharap
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 19:29
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    @Pharap IIRC, Red had to remove other stones to find that black rock.
    – A J
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 1:35
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    @Pharap add lightning to the list of “something else”. The tree is not there anymore. Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 11:06
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    It’s a good job the rock was still there, else the ending of the book would have been very different.
    – Steve Ives
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 13:25

Andy also had the absolute faith that he would be able to escape out of Shawshank, and get to that location and write a letter before Red went on parole.

Hope is a good thing

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    He didn't have faith about escaping... he had a plan (a brilliant one, by the way). But... he had faith that Red would get out of Shawshank... and that "something buried" was the motivation he gave Red to want to get out
    – Barranka
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 18:58
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    @Barranka The buried thing being motivation was something I did not think of, but I don’t quite agree with it. But I do think he had faith in red as well that he would get out as well.
    – user538669
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 7:54

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