Author: Stephen King
Locale: Chamberlain, Maine
Time Period: 1970s
Intended Audience: Young Adult
Carrie was the first novel that Stephen King got published and it catapulted him into the mass market. It has been called a parable of adolescence by critics. It is a moral tale this is a thriller with psychological realism. King received a $5,000 advance for this book. The book was slow to catch on but once it did it grabbed both readers and critics.
*****Warning: Spoilers ahead*****
The book is divided into two parts. The first being “Blood Sport.” The Second is called “Prom Night.” In the first section King introduces his method for telling the story. This method is writing much of the story as anyone might thing but with the inclusion of fictional newspaper stories and books that were written after the events of this one. These experimental techniques add objectivity to an understanding of what happens and make clear that telekinesis is misunderstood and may exist in some form.
The story centers around the sixteen-year-old Carrie White who is a lonely ugly ducking type student who is an outcast both at home and at school. At home, Carrie’s mother is a religious fanatic who associates Carrie with her own “sin”. At school, Carrie’s peers hate her in a mindless way and make her the butt of every joke. This book is about the terrors of the passage into womanhood.
The story begins in the girls shower with Carrie beginning her first menstrual period. Her peers throw feminine hygiene products at her and shout at her “PLUG IT UP! PLUG IT UP!” From this point on Carrie is the scapegoat for a fear of female sexuality that is epitomized in the smell and sight of blood. Susan Snell tries to make atonement for her participation in Carrie’s persecution in the shower by persuading her boyfriend, the popular Tommy Ross, to invite Carrie to the Spring Ball.
Carrie’s conflict with her mother is paralleled with a new plot by girls at the school that is led by a spoiled rich Chris Hargenson. This group arranges to have Carrie and Tommy voted as Queen and King of the Ball, then crown them with a bucket of pig’s blood. Carrie uses telekinesis to avenge her mock baptism and destroys the school and the town. The only survivor is Susan Snell. Carrie herself dies later from a stab wound during a fight with her unstable mother. The book and film differ most toward the end. In the book, Carrie does not strike back immediately.
Some have said that this story is a modernized and darkened version of Cinderella. Bad mother is apparent. The cruel siblings are represented by the peers at school. Tommy Ross is the prince. Susan Snell is the fairy godmother. And of course there is a ball.