Shouldn’t He Be Called Black, Not Red?

You have probably seen this scene before.
It is when Andy meets Red in The Shawshank Redemption.
Andy asks Red about getting a rock hammer.
At the end of this scene Andy asks the question, “Why do they call you Red?”
And Red responds, “Maybe it is because I am Irish.”
This is a reference to the book.
In it, Red was a an Irishman, not a black guy.

The thing that is funny about this reference is that Red is the one doing it.
He is the narrator.
He practically walks us through the movie.
Tells us of life in prison.
He is responsible for the tone and pace of the movie because of his narrative.
And yet, when he is asked of his own name, he only has a sarcastic remark about it.
What the hell is that?
It would have taken ten seconds to explain why his name is Red.
So here are a few I came up with.
“Red was the nickname my mother gave me when I was growing up. Stuck with me every since.”
Or since he is a criminal, his name could be a warning.
“Lawyer called me it. Says it fit the crime that I never did. By the time I got in here, I was known as Red.”
But we get nothing.
Just a little laugh and move on.
It’s weird.
Am I supposed to take a man like that seriously?
Is he the great reliable narrator everyone brings up when they think of movie narrators?
Because that guy didn’t even have a good story for his name.
And he didn’t even clarify if that is his real name.
We don’t know.
Red could be his criminal name.
The name he uses to get all of the stuff.
His real name may be Marcus Johnson for all we know.
Red’s answer sounds like something an unreliable narrator would say.
Not one of the more trusted in cinema history.

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