Carrie by Stephen King

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“See the dirty tricks see my whole life one long dirty trick” – Carrie White

Carrie is the book that solidifies that high school can suck no matter when you were a student.

Carrie White is a 16-year-old girl with a telekinetic gift and an insanely religious and probably mentally unstable mother. She was raised in a home where shame  of herself and ignorance of the wider world was engrained in her at a young age. She’s the local high school’s outcast, the ‘no one,’ the butt of every joke.

The first time we meet Carrie she gets her first period (yup at 16) in the girls locker room and thinks she’s bleeding to death, since her mother has never explained menstruation to her (though i’m unsure why she never learned about it at school). The girls in the locker room taunt her, tease her and start throwing tampons at her while she freaks out.

Maybe its mob mentality but the apparent dislike for Carrie isn’t just felt by her fellow students, during the attack a teacher, Miss Dejardins comes to help her, though somewhat unwillingly. When Carrie won’t calm down she slaps her and isn’t exactly sorry about it.

“She hardly would have admitted the pleasure the act gave her, and she certainly would have denied that she regarded Carrie as a fat, whiny bag of lard. A first-year teacher, she still believed that she thought all children were good.”

While most of the girls forget about the incident, a popular girl named Sue Snell starts feeling remorse and to make up for it she convinces her boyfriend Thomas Ross to invite Carrie to the prom—I guess to give her one good memory before high school is all over.

On the other end of things another popular girl, Chris Hargensen decides that Carrie hasn’t suffered enough and enlists her crazy-as-hell boyfriend Billy  to enact the ultimate revenge at the prom.

Chris’s boyfriend is one of the most disturbing characters in the book. The way he treats his girlfriend and the way he thinks about her and her friends is pretty perverse. Chris seems to know it too, but they seem to still be attracted to each other— or perhaps misery loves company. Or their relationship is an example of the pretty rich girl slumming it with the bad boy, gone terribly wrong.Their relationship goes from Billy’s willingness to do anything for her, to her realizing he would take whatever he wanted from her, to him not caring about her at all :

“He would have done murder for her, and more.” – Billy

“She had meant to make him wait until he had actually done something (but of course he did he got the blood)but it had all begun to slip out of her hands, and it made her uneasy. If she had not given in willingly on Monday, he would have taken her by force” – Chris

“He thought she would start to look less like a goddess and more like the typical society bitch again, and that would make him want to belt her around a little. Or maybe a lot. Rub her nose in it. – Billy

Carrie’s home life leaves a lot to be desired. Her mother is crazy and a religious zealot. She calls breasts “dirty pillows,” only allows baths because showers are “sinful,” and told Carrie that her pimples are the Lord’s way of chastising her. She was also very good at manipulating Carrie. In one of the rare times Carrie didn’t do as her mother said right away, her mother would punish herself. Like I said , this woman is crazy.

“Her mother reached up and pinched her own face. It left a red mark. She looked to Carrie for reaction, saw none, hooked her right hand into claws and ripped it across her own cheek, bringing thin blood. She whined and rocked back on her heels. Her eyes glowed with exaltation.”

Carrie is a Stephen King classic, one of those books that even if you haven’t read, you know at least the premise of the story (and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the film) and know it ends with blood. A lot of blood. You can’t help but root for Carrie during the book and although the ending is bitter sweet you still kind of feel she finally gets her revenge.

So go read Carrie if you haven’t! It’s a great read, great characters and plot. It was a pretty quick read for me as well, and it kept my interest throughout. Everyone knows a Carrie White, which is probably why this book is so easy to identify with. It made me think, would I be like Sue Snell and try and help ? Like Chris Hargensen and watch her suffer? Or stand idly by, which is what most of the characters in the town did throughout Carrie’s life.

“She could be (what o what o what) could stop the chocolates and her pimples would go down. They always did. She could fix her hair. Buy pantyhose and blue and green tights. Make little skirts and dresses from Butterick and Simplicity patterns. The price of a bus ticket, a train ticket. She could be, could be, could be— Alive.”

 

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