The Theme of Racial Inequality in "Shawshank Redemption" and "Crash"

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 2004 |

Pages: 4|

11 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Words: 2004|Pages: 4|11 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

The first movie I decided to watch was Crash. I chose this movie first because the title intrigued me, then I did more research about the film and I was excited to watch it for myself. Right off the bat the film starts with a flashback of two detectives getting into a car accident with an elderly Asian women. The women detective, Ria, begins to make racial slurs at the other women. This sets the tone for the whole movie, as well as, foreshadows what’s to come.

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The movie then changes to a Persian store owner, Ferhad, and his daughter attempting to purchase a gun. The Persian man is trying to buy a handgun from a white male. The white male begins to get frustrated with Ferhad and starts to insult his race. The white male calls him Osama, which causes Ferhad to lash out and becomes enraged. The white owner calls security to escort him out of the shop. His daughter is then left in the store and decides the continue buying the gun for her father. The film Crash was filmed shortly after 9/11 occured in America. Many American people made assumptions about others who were not of the same race as them. Americans were hostile and rude to these people of a different race, as seen in the film.

The movie then goes on to show the perspective of two African American males. These two males are discussing the stereotypes that come with being a black male. A wealthy man and his wife pass them in the streets of Los Angeles. As the wife passses the men she grabs onto her husband and unseemingly becomes uncomfortable. The two men notice the way she begins to act when she sees them in the street. Once the couple gets into their car the two men open their doors and hold a gun to their heads. The couple gets out of the car and the two African American men steal their car. This scene demonstrates the extreme stereotypes that is not only held against African American people but African American men.

Throughout the film there are many different scenes showing how society treats all different races. Some people in society feel as if they are superior to another and the film demonstrates that thought perfectly. The movie does not suggest a solution for this problem, however, it does suggest people of all races to reflect on their life and own experiences. Each character in the movie has been affected by racial discrimination- some as the victim and some as the perpetrator.

The film Shawshank Redemption demonstrates the inequality and crime that is committed in prison. The movie is narrated by a man named Red, this man received a life sentence for attempting to kill her wife. However, he accidently killed a neighbor and a child. Years following, a man named Andy Dufresne was sent to Shawshank for a life sentence as well. Red was known to all prisoners as “the guy who knows how to get things”. Andy approaches Red after only a month of incarceration asking for a rock hammer, so he can pick up his old hobby of rock collecting and shaping.

Shawshank is a terribly harsh environment, with violent guards, fights, and frequent situations that include sexual assault. From the start of the movie Andy becomes a target of sexual assault from men in prison known as “The Sisters”. As a way to stop the sexual abuse, he hears about a week-long job working on the roof from one of the guards. While working, he overhears one of the guards speaking about his tax, and Andy sees an opportunity. Andy, who is a former banker, offers to help the guard and earns some protection from inmates and other guards.

A new man comes into his prison, Tommy Williams, who becomes a friend of Red and Andy. Andy sees something in Tommy and helps him learn to read and even get his diploma, and it eventually comes to light that Tommy knows the person who actually killed Andy’s wife. Andy informs the warden of the evidence, hoping he to be proven innocent. However, the warden needs to protect his investment with Andy and has Tommy killed. Andy is then put in solitary confinement for 2 months. After getting out of confinement, Andy does not come out for roll call. Instead he was already on his way to freedom. Andy had used the rock hammer to break a tunnel through the walls of the prison. Forty years after Andy escapes, Red finally makes parole and reunites with Andy.

Race and gender are social constructions. In one scene in the movie Crash is when a detective refers to his lover as Mexican. She responds, 'My father's from Puerto Rico, my mother's from El Salvador. Neither one of those is Mexico”. The traditional male roles of 'provider' and 'protector' are demonstration throughout the movie as well. In one scene, a black film director named Cameron is pulled over by a white police officer named John Ryan. Cameron's wife is with him, and soon begins questioning the officer. The officers then decided to check for weapons. He responds calmly as the white police officer touches his wife in a sexual way, she perceives him as failing to protect her. She later claims that he allowed them to humiliate so the business world wouldn't 'read about him in the paper and realize that he's actually black'.

Crash shows that we should reanalyze the distinctions between 'male' traits, such as protectiveness and aggression, and 'female' traits, like submissiveness, calm, and intuition. The movie also portrays a Persian American one stop shop owner who buys a handgun to protect his wife and his daughter. His daughter has bad feeling about buying the gun. The family's shop is then vandalized and destroyed, threatening his means of providing for his family. Directly after the incident he pursues a locksmith he holds responsible for the situation. He holds the locksmith at gunpoint, demanding money to pay for the vandalism. The locksmith's young daughter, was watching through the front door and ran out when her father was shot at, she then throws herself in front of the gun.

The gun goes off, pointed towards the girl, but she is unharmed. Tragedy did not take place because Dorri, the shop owners daughter, avoided her father's wishes by getting blanks for ammunition. Her behavior throughout the scene represents traits of assertiveness and decisiveness, rather than “female” traits. However, her behavior also shows traits of intuition and calmness. This shows that people utilize traits for the situation they are presented with, denying the idea of gender appropriateness.

In the movie Shawshank Redemption, many of the prisoners are being held for many years. One of the prisoners in the movie, Brooks, spent over fifty years in prison and has forgot about the outside world. Once he was released from prison Brooks could not sucessfully resocialize from prison and it caused him to commit suicide. Entering a prison, for every person, you are desocialized. While leaving prison you are thrown into a world that is unfamiliar. In society one of the main forms of punishment for deviance is to send someone to a correctional facility. Culture shock was also a large factor into why he was unable to adapt into society after being released. Inevitably, when one is a prisoner for years the more institutionalized they become. Inside the Shawshank prison there are tiny communities. Inmate subcultures show the many roles prisoners may have.

At the start of Andy’s sentence the movie shows us one of the many subcultures. There is a group of men in the prison that call themselves “The Sisters”. Bogs was the leader of the sisters and targeted on Andy when he was new to prison. Violence is used throughout the movie by the dominant group to establish and maintain the control they have over the other inmates. The warden and the prison guards resorted to violence to show their dominance and power.

The movies both include racial inequality, social class hierarchy, gender inequality, prison reform, and sexual abuse. Racial inequality is presented all throughout Crash but also throughout The Shawshank Redemption. Racial inequality has always been a massive issue all throughout time. In only thirty three years the number of black families that are negative in wealth has rose 28.5%. Due to racial discrimination in education, jobs, and pay practices earnings gaps continue to be persistent throughout history. The top ten percent of White men make $117,986 annually and the top ten percent of Asian men make $133,529. While the top ten percent of Latino men make $76,847, and the top ten percent of Black men only making $60,502. These numbers represent the racial inequality in America, which is also represented in the movie Crash by the African American male who is a musician and in The Shawshank Redemption by Red who is treated differently in prison.

In current day America a white woman is making $176 less than a male weekly. White men in the United States have a poverty rate of 7.0 percent. While the poverty rate for Black women is 21.4 percent, 18.7 for Latino women, and 22.8 percent for Native American woman. Throughout Crash the wife of a successful businessman who also works in politics is expected to work at home, take care of her kids, and to only be a mother.

In almost every society social class hierarchy is present. In America the country is split up into three social classifications: upper class, middle class and the lower class. Each class is accompanied by stereotypes, lifestyle factors, and behaviors. The upper class contains the people who have the most money and power. As shown in the movie Crash, the white families are the upper class of America. The middle class is the largest group of the three. The middle class falls in between the other two in both social and economic status’. The lower class is classified as people who are economically unstable. Even in the movie The Shawshank Redemption there is a social hierarchy. The guards and warden are the upper class, they have the most power. Majority of prisoners are the middle class, the ones who belong to a group and have been in prisoner for awhile. Lastly, the lower class, the ones who do not belong to a group, have no power, and are abused by the middle class.

Prisons in American house over 1.5 million inmates. According to, one out of every ten Black men in his thirties is in jail. Just that one statistic clearly shows something wrong is happening in the justice system. The movie Crash does a fantastic job of showing the racial inequality in the justice system. In the movie, a black man and his wife are on their way home from an event when they get pulled over by the police. The police officers happen to be two white men. The ask the couple to step out of the car to search them for no reason. They put the husband in handcuffs while they sexually assault his wife. That scene not only demonstrated the racial inequality but also sexual abuse. The Shawshank Redemption also demonstrates the sexual abuse that occurs in prisons by other prisoners, while the guards close a blind eye.

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Both movies prove a point that racial inequality, social class hierarchy, gender inequality, and sexual abuse are majors problems in America and go together hand and hand. I would highly recommend both films to anyone who is willing to open up, hear, accept the ideas about these issues. The movies cannot make someone know what it is like to be a minority in America or a victim of sexual abuse. However, the films can help someone to understand and to recognize what other people have to deal with. In conclusion, The Shawshank Redemption and Crash are two wonderful movies that demonstrate racial inequality, social class hierarchy, sexual abuse, prison reform, and sexual abuse that occurs everyday in society and the prison systems.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Theme of Racial Inequality in “Shawshank Redemption” and “Crash”. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 2, 2024, from
“The Theme of Racial Inequality in “Shawshank Redemption” and “Crash”.” GradesFixer, 18 Mar. 2021,
The Theme of Racial Inequality in “Shawshank Redemption” and “Crash”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Mar. 2024].
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