The Hole is a location within Shawshank State Prison.
The Hole is an isolated chamber, meant as a severe punishment to prisoners who break the prison's rules openly or those who insult the guards or beat other prisoners. It is the most severe form of punishment even by the jail's standards. There is only one prisoner in the hole at time. The hole is the size of half the normal cell and as low as a basement room. It has only one window that opens into a passage. There are no other windows. Prisoners are not given normal food and are given a diet of bread and water.
In the novel it is explained that the hole was an idea used by the State of Maine in 1700's. In those days the prisoners dug their own cells in the ground with a provided spade and lived in it.So far the longest term ever served in it was 7 years by an inmate so called 'Durham Boy' as mentioned in the novel.It is used to punish several characters in the story, including:
- Andy Dufresne-The first time for 2 weeks when he plays a song over the jail's loudspeakers. The next when he tries to protest to the Warden and maintain that he is innocent. The second time he was sentenced for a month(the longest time ever spent by any prisoner in the movie) and a month more after Tommy's death
- Bogs Diamond-A week for assaulting Andy
- Heywood (Mentioned)-Cause and period unknown
- Red (Deleted Scene)-In the novel Red explains that he has occasionally done time in the hole for smuggling goods,usually once or twice over 2 to 3 years.In the novel,after Andy's escape when Red is brought to his cell,Warden Norton makes a guard go in the tunnel. When the guard has trouble crawling,Red starts laughing,for which he is sentenced to 15 days in the hole. Red says that due to his joy about Andy's escape,he did the time very easily without trouble.
Prisoners seem to fear The Hole, as shown in the movie. It is said that 'there is no easy time in the hole'According to Red in the novel,it is probably the worst way to punish prisoners and in a place like the hole, few days could seem like years. Red says that in the hole,'subdivisions of terrible tend to be lost'In the novel,after Warden Norton takes office,Red mentions that the brutal beatings and punishments were replaced by longer solitary confinements. Norton kept sentencing prisoners to the hole often and it is called 'the Sam Norton grain and drain train' in the novel.