- " Jesus watches from the wall, but His face is cold as stone. And if He loves me, as she tells me, why do I feel so all alone? -Words of Carrie White (describing both the crucified Jesus statuette and her loneliness in her poem/journal."
Carietta N. White, also better known as Carrie White, is the titular protagonist of Stephen King's controversial first horror novel Carrie as well as several films and the musical based on the story. Carrie is the main anti-villain of the story, being both the protagonist and antagonist. She is a villain, that the third party can root for with guilty pleasure. The true villains, who are strictly the antagonist in the story, are her worst enemy Chris Hargensen, the rich and popular bully at Carrie's school, and her severely mentally ill mother Margaret White, a religious and abusive fundamentalist.
After being abandoned while pregnant by her alcoholic fiance, "Ralph", Margaret White's mental state deteriorated, seemingly due to schizophrenia, that worsened as the years went by. She never got over Ralph or accepted the fact that he turned his back on the Lord and left her. Ultimately as she never moved on, she slowly cut herself off from the world and never got the help she clearly needed. Margaret became obsessed with religion as a result to cope and believed that her daughter, Carrie was a Child of Sin and Sin never Dies, all because of the fact that Margaret gave birth to her out of wedlock. This shows how truly mentally ill Margaret sadly is.
In the novel, Carrie was first described while showering in the girl's locker room at school, which was against her mother's rules. She is said to be a 'Frog amongst Swans', an unattractive and uncoordinated girl of fifteen/sixteen with oily pale skin with a hallow stale complexion. She has short, mousy and colorless flat blonde hair with split ends that is 'soggy' when wet. She was chubby at the waist, with a gut and had a lot of pimples on her chest, face, and back and buttocks. Physically, Carrie has lots of flaws and is even repulsive looking to some. She also keeps her eyes glued to the floor at all times, other than in P. E. or class. Carrie displays nearly every trait an outcast and social misfit could have.
As a small child, she was described by neighbours as being a very pretty little girl, who always wore homemade bright colored clothes, stockings and long skirts every day at school and at home. But over the years Carrie did a "reverse ugly duckling". In the novel, long after Carrie's death, Estelle Horan, the White's old neighbor who used to sun bath topless in her own yard as a teen, blames Margaret for sabotaging Carrie's natural beauty she once had as a little girl.
"She was such a pretty girl,' Stella Horan resumes, fighting another cigarette. 'I've seen some high school pictures of her, and that horrible fuzzy black-and-white photo on the cover of Newsweek. I look at them and all I can think is, Dear God, where did she go? What did that woman do to her? Then I feel sick and sorry. She was so pretty, with pink cheeks and bright brown eyes, and her hair the shade of blonde you know will darken and get mousy. Sweet is the only word that fits...you could still see the misery within her, but she was just so sweet and bright and innocent. Her mother's sickness hadn't touched her very deeply, not then!" -Estelle Horan reflecting on the past and discussing Carrie White in a interview.
As Carrie grew up, she had a very difficult childhood. Her mother strictly raised her to be a concencrated Christian like herself, and if she disobeyed or did something ungodly, Margaret would beat her with a Holy Bible, throw drinks at her, and send her to the prayer closet to pray for forgiveness. Carrie never had any friends because of her mother's deluded and crazy ways. She was a very lonely and quiet girl, who was isolated and cut off from her surroundings, rarely leaving the house unless it was mandatory such as school.
Rain of StonesEdit
In the novel Carrie shows off her powers at a tender young age. One sunny day as a child, Carrie was playing in her yard, until she ventured out into the next door neighbors' yard, when her mother was not watching. There she found a young beautiful teenage girl sun bathing in a sexy bikini without a top on, her ex-neighbor Estelle "Stella" Horan. Carrie looked at the half naked girl and pointed to her breasts and asked her "what are those?" The girl replied "breasts" and told Carrie that one day she would get them. But Carrie shook her head and said that good girls do not get them and that she referred to breasts as 'dirty pillows' which was a phrase that her mother had put in her head. Margaret then came rushing out of her house hysterically, screaming at Carrie for talking with the neighbor girl, and even called her a "SLUT", "WHORE GIRL" and a "JEZEBEL!"
Estelle's mother, Mrs. Sheila Horan heard this from her house and asked Mrs. White to please never call her daughter that ever again. Margaret forcefully pulled little Carrie by the arm and back inside the house and began abusing her. Screams and cries could be heard by neighbors nearby. Suddenly a rain of unexpected and inexplicable hailstones, the size of baseballs came falling from the sky, right out of the clear blue. Yet surprisingly and even more strangely only fell directly on the White's house, mainly damaging the roof and windows. It was later hinted, that Carrie was the cause of this.
The prayer closet that Margaret White ceremonially locks her daughter to pray inside of for hours or even days at a time (depending in Margaret's sick mind how severely Carrie has sinned) is a very symbolic part of the story of Carrie. It represents the repression, mind control and power Margaret has over her daughter. It is a metaphor for Carrie's world of loneliness, being trapped and unable to escape the prison her mother has made for her. As long as the closet exist, so will the misery that consumes the majority of Carrie's young life. Being inside the closet brings a strong feeling of claustrophobia and fear to Carrie as she cries, screams and pounds on the closet door begging to be let out, which is useless.
When it comes to praying in general, Margaret has taught Carrie the value of prayer as Carrie is forced to get on her knees even as a teen to pray on call, before bedtime and before every meal. This gives Margaret the upper hand and allows her to dominate her daughter through religion, and it is Carrie's strong religous nature Margaret has installed within her that keeps teenagers her age, away from her as it is seen an "uncool."
She could still remember that day in first grade, the stares, and the sudden, awful silence, when she had gotten down on her knees before lunch in the school cafeteria [to pray]—the laugher had begun on that day and had echoed up through the years.-Carrie reflecting on her childhood.
Years later, as a teenage girl who was slowly developing into a woman and attending public high school, Carrie was an outcast who was always singled out and relentlessly teased by cruel bullies and by the other popular classmates. Even a few teachers joined in on the fun making because of her crazy mother and the un-cool clothes her mother forced her to wear. At home, Carrie was constantly beaten into submission and stripped of her individuality by her insane mother on a regular basis but Carrie was too afraid to tell anyone about the abuse and the closet at home.
The prayer closet was kept a secret that noone ever knew about. Inside the closet there are religious pictures hung up upon the walls, Bibles are laid out to read, candles for light and small religous figures cluttered all about the tiny space. A large crucifix with a bleeding and suffering Jesus with an expression of agony is nailed to it, is also on the wall and is the focal point of the little room. When locked inside against her will, Carrie reads glamour magazines such as Cosmo or Seventeen to pass the time instead of just endlessly praying. She dreams of what being a normal teenage girl would be like and hides the magazines under the floor boards of the closet. So her mother will not find them to punish her even more for filling her head with provocative and ungodly things. It is stated in the book, that Carrie nearly died of suffocation and starvation from being locked in the closet once for days.
Blood & Women's StrengthEdit
Blood is very symbolic and a strong key character and theme in Stephen King's Carrie, which brings the story together, being its foundation. "Blood Sport" just happens to be the title of the first chapter in the novel of Carrie.
It is a metaphor which plays a major role when Carrie is showering naked in the girl's locker room with her fellow female peers. This is something her mother Margret, strongly disapproves of. Despite how Margaret feels, Carrie is determined to try and be as normal as possible at school by engaging in activities such as P.E. Despite her efforts, to be accepted Carrie fails miserably, only subconsciously sabotaging herself because of the lust and desperation she has for fitting in. But this attempt backfires on her, causing Carrie to be an even bigger freak of nature and a misfit. When the blood comes for the first time, it arrives coincidentally as Carrie's hand is exploring her vaginal area.
The white bar of soap in her hand is something that has different meanings. It resembles two metaphors and can be strongly looked at differently. The first metaphor represents the cleanliness and purity, the washing of Carrie's virgin body. Wash away the sweat, wash away the Sin. Because cleanliness is next to Godliness.
The second metaphore for the white bar of soap can be viewed as Carrie's way of not only washing away all the Sin but also trying to wash away all of the memories of cruelty and torment she has received by her community since first grade. Washing it away in hopes that people will forget about the label she has had thrusted upon her against he will, and her reputation for being known as "different."
As the red blood is released causing a mess all over her hands, this represents what Margaret's religious teachings have installed in Carrie's head as the color of red stands for "Sin", (Carrie is a child of Sin, Sin never dies.)
Carrie views this as a punishment for disobeying her mother who Carrie is convinced can do no wrong and never sins. In reality the blood was just her very first period, due to her developing body that came at a very late age. For some girls this does happen and is not as rare as one may think. There is no official day or date when a girls period finally decides to kick in. It usually depends on the girls genetics. Sadly Carrie was never informed about this. The period was the the event that set the chain reaction in motion. It also shows an example of how cut off and sheltered Carrie is compared to her other peers at school who already know the meaning of a period and the cycle of menstrual blood. When Margaret finds out about what happened to Carrie at school, she believes it was God punishing her daughter and giving her the curse of blood for being naked in the girl's showers. This makes Margaret even more abusive to Carrie and even more delusional in her twisted mind.
When the blood comes, it is what triggers Carrie's telekinetic energy. Both blood and telekinesis (which is described in the novel as a gene that only manifests in females) represent the power of womanhood. Stephen King described the novel Carrie as a reflection of men's fear of female power.
“Carrie is largely about how women find their own channels of power, but also what men fear about women and women’s sexuality. Writing the book in 1973 and only three years out of college, I was fully aware of what Women’s Liberation implied for me and others of my sex. The book is[…] an uneasy masculine shrinking from a future of female equality. Carrie is Woman feeling her powers for the first time and, like Samson, pulling down the temple on everyone in sight at the end of the book.” — His book Danse Macabre
"Carrie also has mildly strong and powerful advanced telekinetic abilities that grow much stronger and more powerfully destructive after her first menstrual period[…] But there was hardly any comfort in playing her private game, because like so many things in Carrie’s life, it was sinful. Or so her mother said. This was her game, her power, her sin, firmly repressed like everything else about Carrie. An act of furious cruelty forever changed things and turned her innocent game into a weapon of horror and destruction." — His website
Carrie's state as an outcast accurately depicts women's place in society in the past. Carrie's menarche represents a rise of female power, which is turned into a laughing stock by Carrie's classmates & into something frightening and shameful by Carrie's mother. Carrie's power as a Woman was demonized by her mother (Religion) and her peers (Society). The sad part is that this isn't even historically inaccurate - menstruation, as well as women's power, has been quite thoroughly demonized throughout history.
As Carrie begins to become more comfortable with herself and her telekinesis, she gains the confidence to go to the high school prom with Tommy Ross. Her mother is horrified and doesn't want Carrie to venture out and become her own person. Carrie's mother especially laments that the color of Carrie's dress (red, which is the color of blood & thus Carrie's power) was evil, and that Carrie's sinful cleavage was exposed. Interestingly, Carrie had used her own skills to craft the dress herself; the dress emulates Carrie's own power as a woman.
"I can see your dirty pillows. Everyone will."
"They're called breasts, mama. And every woman has them."
Carrie ignores her mother's patriarchal dismay and expresses comfort with her womanhood, which her mother tries to describe as sinful.
Carrie is described as beautiful for the first time when she goes to the prom. She is accepted by her classmates for the first time, and Tommy Ross is actually beginning to fall in love with her. At this point, however, we must harken back to Stephen King's mention that the book represents the patriarchy "shrinking from a future of female equality". Chris Hargensen is a member of the symbolic patriarchy, who couldn’t handle owning up to her wrongdoings, when she was punished for the shower incident, and thus blamed Carrie (woman) and wanted to humiliate and shame her and drag her down the totem pole once again. She is elected prom queen, marking woman’s return to power. She’s in control now. She’s literally queen.
They shower her in pig’s blood to remind her of where she came from. “Pig’s blood for a pig.” This is where the “uneasy masculine shrinking from a future of female equality” (Stephen King) comes in. I quote one of Carrie’s classmates, Ch 14, about laughing at Carrie:
"We couldn’t help it. It was one of those things where you laugh or go crazy. Carrie had been the butt of every joke for so long, and we all felt that we were part of something special that night. It was, as if we were watching a person rejoin the human race, and I for one thanked the Lord for it. And that happened. That horror."
They had tried to belittle Carrie and bring her down once again, but what they didn't realize was that Carrie had become very comfortable with herself and her own power. She unleashes exceptionally strong advanced telekinesis and ultimately destroys the symbolic patriarchy that had been oppressing and humiliating her for her entire life as sweet vengeance.
After Carrie burns her town to the ground, Carrie’s death is described as a “candle flame disappearing down through a tunnel” (Ch 20). Her flame went with her. I’ve read theories that the light at the end of the tunnel is your birth in your next life. This makes sense here.
The last part of the book (Ch 21) describes the ashes and misery and desolation of the town that once symbolized patriarchy, but now symbolized the death of it (interestingly, the name of the town - Chamberlain - is also the last name of a 20th century feminist). The very last part of the book? A letter from a woman - Amelia - to her sister Sandra about Amelia’s daughter. Ironically, the daughter is described quite similar in appearance to Carrie, and is also described as developing telekinetic powers in the same ways that Carrie had - making marbles float, etc. The difference is that Amelia is a little nervous, but overall much more accepting of her daughter’s teleinetic abilities than Carrie's mother had been. Carrie’s mom was horrified at the signs of Carrie’s (woman’s) ability, and even considered killing her. Amelia shows a lot more love towards her daughter, and is even intrigued by her daughter’s psionic ability. Amelia predicts that her daughter will be a “real world-beater someday”. A worldbeater is defined as “a person or thing that is better than all others in its field.”
This could be seen to represent Carrie's hurtful and lonely spirit being reborn and reincarnated into a more accepting and egalitarian environment after the destruction of patriarchy, thus putting an end to the battle of the sexes.
Carrie, was mysteriously born with extraordinarily strong and advanced telekinesis. Which gave her the psionic ability to move, manipulate, throw, and control things (a multitude of objects or people all at once) with her mind whenever she concentrated hard enough. Carrie refers to her telekinesis as "flexing". At first this seemed like a rare and special gift, a miracle in Carrie's eyes that she strictly kept to herself, not telling a soul. Despite Carrie's effort to keep it a secret, she subconsciously had one or two outbursts infront of few people who witnessed this phenomenon but chose to be in denial or simply ignore choosing to believe it simply didn't happen. Carrie thought her telekinesis was a blessing, but, in the end, it all turned into a curse as Carrie did not know how to control her powers inside. And Carrie finally let it take over her mind, body and spirit, which lead not only to her eventual demise but sadly many others also. In the book, Carrie was also telepathic and could sometimes read people's thoughts when they were near her, but had only been utilized once. Such as Ms. Desjardins, her Physical Education teacher, which were a mixed feeling of sympathy and disgust in all of her lying compassion. She also had the telepathic ability to let other people read her thoughts, specifically after the prank on the night of her prom, which people later said were of hatred, venom, and vengeance.
Months after the incident and town tragedy occurred, one witness stated that, when he saw Carrie White on the street, he could read her thoughts rather clearly. The thoughts of which consumed her thinking she would never get the pig's blood off of her dress, and that she was going to pour blood on the town of Chamberlain Maine and make everyone pay.
It is hinted that Carrie's deceased father was telekinetic in his own life, but never knew it or tapped into the full strength and potential his own telekinetic, telepathic abilities. It is arguably possible, he might have known he was telekinetic, if so, he kept it to himself like Carrie would. Despite her eventually turning into a homicidal, sadistic and destructive force to be reckoned with, Carrie was not a monster in the beginning. Throughout her story in both the book and the movie, Carrie was a loner, shown as a shy and timid young woman with no confidence. Carrie was a fractured young soul, in need of support and love. But it was only handed to her in small amounts, and at a very high cost. Carrie was a girl who had a traumatizing childhood and longed for a friend and someone who truly understood her pain and suffering. Alas, she let her powers get the better of her and this, coupled with all the abuse she suffered, caused her to undergo a villainous transformation.
Notably, even after her descent into villainy and unfathomable madness, Carrie is usually shown to still not be completely bereft of redeeming qualities. In several versions, she spares Miss Desjardin's life due to appreciating the kindness she had shown to her earlier and also chooses to let Sue Snell live even when she does not forgive her. Finally, she sought comfort in her mother following her rampage, suggesting that she still loved her and wanted to be loved by her even after all of the abuse Margaret showed to her.
Prior to snapping, Carrie was very sensitive and misunderstood. She would cry silently in her room late at night, dreading the next day of school. When she had her period for the first time, she was hysterically frightened, because she thought she was bleeding to death internally and was going to die. She appeared to be a mysterious student, who kept to herself much of the time and never bothered anyone. Thus, leaving an intriguing mystery which fascinated and intrigued many people long after her death, as everyone wondered "who was Carrie White, really?"
A Stephen King FairytaleEdit
While reading the original book, notice that 'Carrie' is Stephen King's version of Cinderella, there are many similarities in the horror story of King's that reflect as a metaphor to the classic fairytale of fairy godmothers and pumpkins transforming into carriages. For example: After the prank, Carrie rushes out of the school auditorium before midnight, just like Cinderella ran out of the castle ballroom as the clock stroke twelve and broke the magic's spell, turning Cinderella's beautiful ball gown back into old rags. And like Cinderella's glass slipper, a blood drenched Carrie loses both her prom slippers as well when fleeing down a flight of steps as the magic of that special night, for both characters is offically over.
Sadly, unlike Cinderella, Carrie unluckily never got that second chance to have her own happily ever after.
Like Cinderella and her wicked stepmother, when Carrie rebels against her own biological mother, she gets a taste of freedom and escapes the psychological cage her mother has locked her in just for one night. But little does Carrie, or anyone else for that matter, know that there will be a price to pay before the night is over for disobeying Momma and showing off her "Dirty Pillows."
Crowned in BloodEdit
While wearing a beautiful homemade dress of rich crushed red velvet that shows off her cleavage and is adorned with a matching crosage and high heels, Carrie White arrives at the Prom and at first is taken back by the Glamour of it all. But things look as if they are turning around for her at last. She's accompanied by Tommy Ross, the most athletic and popular boy in school, who, surprisingly, forms a small crush for Carrie in secret. Carrie talks to some of the cool and popular kids and even cracks a few jokes, that makes her peers actually laugh with her and finally not just at her. The night seems to be going fairly well, as she gets complimented on her appearance. It is stated that Carrie looked really beautiful and normal for the first time in her short life. The social anxiety within her slowly begins to lift, letting Carrie radiate with high hopes and glow, as she was free to finally feel normal and out of her shell to enjoy herself.
For Carrie this is a long awaited dream come true. For everyone else it will be a real life Nightmare.
Carrie's wishful fantasy is ultimately shattered, as fate steps in, when she is tricked and humiliated by vindictive and sociopathic students into being elected as Queen of the Prom by one vote. Due to phony ballots, that were rigged in plans to successfully out number all the other contestants and runner ups, Carrie is crowned on stage with Tommy, as the audience below cheers and congratulates her as they all sing the school song. Strangely no one questions the surprising odds of Carrie winning.
While sitting on the Queen's throne, suddenly a banging metallic sound is heard that cuts through the music. Seconds later, Carrie is showered in what feels to her at first like a cold, thick, wet blanket which comes to find out was very smelly rotting blood from a pig. After the blood is dumped on her from a metal bucket high above, Carrie is drenched from head to toe in front of the entire school, everything and everyone turns dead silent as time seems to stand still, as if in slow motion. Her red velvet dress she made for the special night is completely ruined. It is stated, that Carrie looked, as if someone had dipped her in a red bucket of paint.
Carrie's date, Tommy Ross, unfortunately is also showered in pig's blood as he's beside Carrie sitting on the King's throne with a second bucket above as his own. There were two buckets above, one for the Queen, another for the King. Despite this Carrie gets soaked the worst. Still Tommy's bucket falls later and hits him right on the top of his head. He is knocked out cold, hitting the floor unconscious and dies. She feels Tommy´s death. The prank was followed later by a rain of cruel laughter, yet the laughter crept in slowly at first, a chuckle here, a chuckle there. Then more began to follow after it, growing louder and louder, until it became one. Like a giant tidal wave of laughter that swallowed Carrie whole and ate her alive. Carrie's dream had been crushed by a reality beyond her worst nightmare.
"Oh...I..., COVERED- with it, ....they're LOOKING at ME!" Carrie thinks to herself.
The laughter was only getting louder by the second, one voice after the other, like a chain reaction. A voice joined the first, and was followed by a third - girl's soprano giggle - a fourth, a fifth, six, a dozen, all of them, all laughing. The laughter was accompanied by even a few of the teachers including Ms. Desjardin, the teacher who was nice to Carrie, like a trusted friend before. Ms. Desjardin's face was still frozen, but Carrie could see it, she could see just the same as everyone else in the room, deep down, the laughter was in her also, hidden deep behind professionalism, but there just the same. Inside, she wanted to laugh. Ms. Desjardin tries to comfort Carrie who is reading her thoughts, which are of lying compassion, accompanied by a mixed with guilt and disgust. Carrie strikes out at Desjardin using her telekinetic energy without having to physically touch Desjardin, who flies across the gym room so very hard and so forcefully, she gets a bloody nose in the process of her fall.
In utter embarrassment, Carrie then tries to flee the stage, and is reported to be hopping like a frog with her hands infront of her face, trying to hide the humiliation and shame. To add insult to injury an anonymous student in the crowd of Prom goers, sticks their foot out to trip Carrie, as she passes by. Carrie's feet tangle together and lose coordination causing her to fall clumsily, leaving a big streak of blood behind her as she slides on all fours across the room and the laughter grows louder. Carrie then expects someone to kick her in the ass next, but no one does. While on the floor, Carrie looks up and into the faces of the many people crowded around her. Carrie knows everyone is hysterical and laughing uncontrollably. Some people are said to be laughing so hard they are crying and rolling on the floor holding they're tummies. But they are all dressed in glittering ball gowns and expensive tuxedos, with perfect hairdos, attractive smiles and clear skin. They are all wrapped within the warm, bright and luminous light of popularity and social acceptance, a rite of passage of belonging, a light that Carrie will never be a part of. Humiliated, Carrie is still on the floor, crawling like a pig.
"tommy´s dead full price paid for bringing a plague into the place of light" Carrie thinks to herself
Carrie gets back up on her feet and runs out of the school so fast and ungainly that she loses her prom slippers like Cinderella on the way out. She finally makes it to the school's front lawn to collapse on the wet moist grass outside to catch her breathe as she realizes she has just been tricked and made a fool of once again. They tricked her again.
While a barefoot Carrie is all alone outside in a state of utter shock, she tries to come to terms and accepts what has happened. Carrie plans to just slip away into the dark night and take the back streets, so no one will see her, but just as she decides to go home and admit to Momma that she was right, yet she did not.
Something snaps within Carrie's mind, like a dark epiphany. A psychological breaking point inside of her is released after so many years of repression. It quickly takes over Carrie, as she remembers her telekinesis. It's time to teach them all a lesson or two. So she pulls herself together, returning to the school with a deep and ruthless vengeance. It´s time to teach everyone a lesson. Carrie locks everyone inside the auditorium and turns on the sprinkler system to wet everyone and ruin their prom outfits and nice hairdos. What seems to be just innocent fun to Carrie, wetting eveyone, the sprinklers water gets to close to all the electrical cords on the stage. Carrie looks in through the windows of the gymnasium doors and smiles, as she see's everyone inside panicking as sparks fly everywhere and people are getting electrocuted one by one. Carrie even laughs when one female student is electrocuted and her body moves like a crazed puppet as volts of electricity dance through her body. Students are still desperately trying to open the doors and even looking back at Carrie through the thick glass. As the building quickly catches fire and spreads. Carrie looks happy and smiling as she seeks her revenge and watches her fellow classmates and peers electrocuted to a crisp and ultimately burned alive before leaving to destroy the town next. Back in the gym, they were all trying to get out the doors again, the few who were not on fire or cooked yet. A dozen or so, pushing on the doors, like cockroach's trapped in a roach-motel. But she held the doors shut easily with her power. That alone was no strain. Some obscure sense tells that a few were getting out the fire doors, but let them. She would get them later. She would get all of them. Every last one of them! Carrie descends down the street and slowly approaching the town all while still holding the gymnasium doors closed. It was easy. For Carrie all you had to do was see them in your mind being shut and held shut. The towns emergency whistle begins to go off as the entire school by this time is completely up in flames with only a few people inside left to die.
For a moment the town whistle interrupts her train of flexing. Carries mind's eye lost sight of the gymnasium doors and some of them almost, just almost got out free. NO, NO!!! Naughty, naughty. Carrie slams them shut again, this time even tighter, catching somebody's fingers in the jamb and severing one of them. Good. Good. Carrie thinks...
Only a few lucky students and one teacher survived the night of "The Black Prom."
The Black PromEdit
From "We Survived the Black Prom" by Norma Watson (Published in the August, 1980, issue of The Reader's Digest as a 'Drama in Real Life' article): "It all happened so quickly, that no one really knew what was happening. We were all standing and applauding and singing the school song. Then - I was at the usher's table just inside the main doors, looking at the stage - there was a sparkle as the big lights over the stage apron reflected on something metallic. I was standing with Tina Blake and Stella Horan and I think they saw it, too.
All at once there was a huge red splash in the air. Some of it hit the mural and ran in long drips. I knew right away, even before it hit them, that it was blood. Stella Horan thought it was paint, but I had a premonition, just like the time my brother got hit by a hay truck.
They were drenched. Carrie got it the worst. She looked exactly like she had been dipped in a bucket of red paint. She just sat there. She never moved. The band that was closest to the stage, Josie and the moonglows, got splattered. The lead guitarist had a white instrument, and it splattered all over it.
I say: 'My God, that's blood!'
When I said that, Tina screamed. It was very loud, and it rang out clearly in the auditorium.
People had stopped singing and everything was completely quiet. I couldn't move. I was rooted to the spot. I looked up and there were two buckets dangling high over the thrones, swinging and banging together. They were still dripping. All of a sudden they fell, with a lot of loose string paying out behind them. One of them hit Tommy Ross on the head. It made a very loud noise, like a gong.
That made someone laugh. I don't know who it was, but it wasn't the way a person laughs when they we something funny and gay. It was raw and hysterical and awful.
At the same instant, Carrie opened her eyes real wide.
That was, when they all started laughing. I did too, I admit, I confess...yes, I laughed at Carrie White. God help me. It was so ... weird.
When I was a little girl I had a Walt Disney storybook called Song of the South, and it had that Uncle Remus story about the tarbaby in it. There was a picture of the tarbaby sitting in the middle of the road, looking like one of those old-time Negro minstrels with the blackface and great white eyes. When Carrie opened her eyes it was like that. They were the only part of her that wasn't completely red. And the light had gotten in them and made them glassy. God help me, but she looked for all the world like Eddie Cantor doing that pop-eyed act of his.
That was what made people laugh. We couldn't help it. It was one of those things where you laugh or go crazy. Carrie had been the school goat, the butt of every prank and joke for so very long, and we all felt that we were part of something special that night. It was as if we were watching a person rejoin the human race, to be sent back into reality and put back in their proper place. I for one thanked the Lord for it. And that happened. That horror.
And so there was nothing else to do. It was either laugh or cry, and who could bring himself to cry over Carrie White after all those years?
She just sat there, staring out at them, at us, and the laughter kept swelling, getting louder and louder. People were holding their bellies and doubling up and pointing at her. Tommy was the only one, who wasn't looking at her. He was sort of slumped over in his seat, as if lied gone to sleep. You couldn't tell he was hurt, though he was splashed, too bad.
And then her face ... broke, I don't know how else to describe it. She put her hands up to her face and halfstaggered to her feet. She almost got tangled in her own feet and fell over, and that made people laugh even more. Then she sort of ... hopped off the stage. It was like watching a big red frog hopping off a lily pad. She almost fell again, but kept on her feet.
Miss Desjardin came running over to her, and she wasn't laughing any more, but it looked like she wanted to burst out at any given moment. She was holding out her arms to her. She went to hug Carrie, I think. But then she veered off and hit the wall really hard and fast, the wall beside that stage - It was the strangest thing. She didn't stumble or anything. It was as if someone had pushed her, but there was no one there.
Carrie ran through the crowd with her hands clutching her face, and somebody put his foot out. I don't know, who it was, but she went sprawling on her face. leaving a long red streak on the floor. And she said, 'Ooof!' I remember that. It made me laugh even harder, hearing Carrie say Oof like that. She started to crawl along the floor like a dog and then she got up and ran out after looking up at everyone crowded around her. She ran right past me. You could smell the vile scent of that blood. It smelled like something sick and rotted.
She went down the stairs two at a time and then out the doors. And was gone....
The laughter just sort of faded off, a little at a time. Some people were still hitching and snorting. Lennie Brock had taken out a big white handkerchief and was wiping his eyes. Sally McManus looked all white, like she was going to throw up, but she was still giggling and she couldn't seem to stop. Billy Bosnan was just standing there with his little conductor's stick in his hand and shaking his head. Mr Lublin was sitting by Miss Desjardin and calling for a Kleenex. She had a bloody nose.
You have to understand that all this happened in no more than two minutes. Nobody could put it all together. We were stunned. Some of them were wandering around, talking a little, but not much. Helen Shyres burst into tears, and that made some of the others start up.
Then someone yelled: 'Call a doctor! Hey, call a doctor QUICK, QUICK, I think he's dead!'
It was Josie Vreck. He was up on the stage, kneeling by Tommy Ross, and his face was white as paper. He tried to pick him up, and the throne fell over and Tommy rolled on to the floor.
Nobody moved. They were all just staring. It's like everyone came to the realization that Tommy might have been a goner. I felt like I was frozen in ice. My God, was all I could think. My God, my God, my God. And then this other thought crept in, and it was, as if it wasn't my own at all. I was thinking about Carrie. And about God. It was all twisted up together, and it was awful.
Stella looked over at me and said: 'Carrie's back.'
And I said: 'Yea, that's right.' I already knew...I don't know how I knew. But I did...then I knew something was coming, judgment day. I felt sick and started to drip sweat.
The lobby doors all slammed shut at the exact same time and it startled us all. The sound was like hands clapping. Somebody in the back screamed, someone's arm or finger had gotten slammed shut in the door somehow and that started the stampede. They ran for the doors in a rush. I just stood there, not believing it. And when I looked, just before the first of them got there and started to push, I saw Carrie looking in, her face all smeared, like an Indian with war paint on.
She was smiling. Wickedly.
They were pushing at the doors, hammering on them, but they wouldn't budge. As more of them crowded up to them, I could see the first ones to get there being battered against. them, grunting and wheezing. They wouldn't open, and those doors are never locked. It's a state law ya know.
Mr Stephens and Mr Lublin waded in, and began to pull them away, grabbing jackets, shorts, anything. They were all screaming and burrowing like cattle. Mr Stephens slapped a couple of girls and punched Vic Mooney in the eye. They were yelling for them to go out the back fire doors. Some did. Those were the ones who lived.
That's when it started to rain ... at least, that's what I thought it was at first. There was water falling all over the place. I looked up and all the sprinklers were on, all over the gym. Water was hitting the basketball court and splashing. Josie Vreck was yelling for the guys in his band to turn off the electric amps and mikes quick, but they were all gone. He jumped down from the stage.
The panic at the doors stopped. People backed away, looking up at the ceiling. I heard somebody - Don Farnham, I think-say: 'This is gonna wreck the basketball court.'
A few other people started to go over and look at Tommy Ross. All at once I knew I wanted to get out of there. I took Tina Blake's hand and said, 'Let's run. Quick, something bad is going to happen in here!'
To get to the fire doors, you had to go down a short corridor to the left of the stage. There were sprinklers there too, but they weren't on. And the doors were open - I could see a few people running out. But most of them were just standing around in little groups, blinking at each other. Some of them were looking at the smear of blood where Carrie fell down, the water was washing it away.
I took Tina's hand and started to pull her toward the EXIT sign. At that same instant there was a huge flash of fight, a scream, and a horrible feedback whine. I looked around and saw Josie Vreck holding on to one of the mike stands. He froze, he couldn't let go. His eyes were bugging out and his hair was on end and it looked like he was dancing. He looked like a scarecrow or a marionette doll with strings attached to his body...just wiggling all about, up and down. But it wasn't a funny type of wiggle dance, it was the dance of death. His feet were sliding around in the water and smoke started to come out of his shirt. The air smelled like barbeque.
He fell over on one of the amps - they were big ones, five or six feet high - and it fell into the water. The feedback went up to a scream that was head-splitting, and then there was another sizzling flash and it stopped. Josie's shirt was on fire. And that's what set the mural ablaze I think...it spread so fast.
'Run!' Tina yelled at me. 'Come on, Norma, Please!'
We ran out into the hallway, and something exploded backstage you could hear it- the main power switches, I guess. For just a second I looked back. You could see right out on to the stage, where Tommy's body was, because the curtain was up. All the heavy light cables were in the air, flowing and jerking and writhing like snakes out of an Indian fakir's basket. One of the cords lashed out and wipped some people so hard it cut the skin open. Then one of the cords ripped in two. There was a violent flash like lighting in the sky when it hit the water, and then all at once everybody was screaming.
Oh God, those screams....those screams, I tell ya. And the smell of burning flesh, and those screams...I'll never forget it. Never...
Then we were out the door and running across the parking lot. I think I was screaming. I don't remember very well. I don't remember anything very well after they started screaming. After those high-voltage cables hit that water-covered floor the rest was history..."
The Devil comes to Chamberlain MaineEdit
By now Carrie's velvet dress is tattered and ripped to shreds. It is said, that she appeared, as if she had crawled out of a fatal car accident. Her feet are raw and bleeding and the blood that covers her body, has began to dry and clot. Carrie is now in a deep catatonic trance and has descended into complete madness. Carrie proceeded to go on a hellish rampage of rage and insanity while walking home to Momma. Destroying everything and anything in her path of rage. Witnesses see Carrie burning cars and houses with people trapped inside and blowing up gas stations. She knocks over electric poles causing sparks to fly into the smokey air and she even is seen breaking fire hydrants which flood the streets. Carrie sets a good majority of the small town of Chamberlain, Maine ablaze and kills as many people as she can rather if they are guilty or not.
Innocent bystanders are running and screaming through the streets in all of the chaos and confusion throughout the town as fire trucks, cop cars and sirens wail. The wild fire in the town becomes uncontrollable as the high flames are so fierce that a bright orange glow can be seen high up into the sky even from a far off distance.
Meanwhile, Carrie begins to think about God and believes, that this is all of his doing just as much as hers.
Carrie then goes to pray at the town's Cathedral. Carrie then returns home finally, determined to kill her mother, and from her mother learns the truth about how she was conceived. Though at first Margaret appears to comfort her bloody distraught daughter, she tricks Carrie and brutally stabs her in the back, hitting an artery, which she had planned all along for being a witch and having gone to the Prom, which Carrie, deep down knew. Carrie defended herself and retaliated by stopping her mother's heart, until Margaret died from a heart attack. A tired and drained Carrie makes her way outside again to finish, what she started and kills the two main antagonists who were the ringleaders of the prank, Chris Hargensen and her boyfriend Billy Nolan. Chris and Billy know what Carrie has done, and underestimate her by stupidly attempting to kill her by running her over. Carrie uses her strongly advanced telekinesis once again and crashes the oncoming vehicle into the building of a nearby strip club and destroys it as the car explodes in flames of fire.
After killing Chris and Billy, Carrie becomes drained of most her strength and loss of blood. She is found lying in the middle of a dirt road near the town by Sue Snell, her former classmate. Carrie is nearly dead by this point, but has a final deep conversation with Sue (via telepathy) before her dying minutes later. Carrie does not forgive Sue and chooses to hold a grudge. Carrie, however, does believe her when she states she had nothing to do with the prank at the Prom. Thus, Carrie leaves her alive showing her some mercy, but also shows Sue all of the soul crushing torment she received as an outsider throughout her life. Sue finally sees and feels the misery of Carrie's sad life, that she would not have ever known about otherwise, Sue's heart breaks for Carrie in a selfless and honest way.
Carrie cries out loud for her mother, wanting to be comforted and held, as she dies in Sue's arms. Seconds later, as Sue gets up to call for help she strangely has her period on herself which was late, as the menstrual blood runs down her leg. Earlier in the story Sue believed she might have been pregnant with her boyfriend Tommy Ross's baby. But her period coming confirms she either had a miscarriage or she was never pregnant to began with. It hints that Sue received the "Curse of Blood" from Carrie as an act of forgiveness. Rather Sue's period coming at the exact same time of Carrie's death was coincidental or caused by Carrie's telepathic abilities herself is left to the unknown.
The authorities found her later and took her body away for investigation after she was identified by Sue Snell.
The cause of Carrie's death remains an open mystery. Carrie either died due to a combination of exhaustion, severe brain hemorrhaging from overusing her exceptionally strong telekinesis, blood loss from her wounds, or she used her telekinetic abilities to shut her own body down and committed suicide, after realizing what she had done. And the monster that she became. It also is very possible that Carrie couldn't live with herself knowing she killed her own mother, whom she loved unconditionally and died to possibly be with Margaret in the afterlife in either Heaven or Hell.
458 people died in the disaster, 99 of them were at the Junior-Senior Prom and 67 of them were Seniors. Carrie's controversial story becomes a widely discussed subject, one that is immediately taken to the Supreme Court, where witnesses are asked to tell everything they knew about Carrie or saw during the night of the tragedy.
Some people insist it was a natural disaster and Carrie White was not a monster, yet simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, therefore being used as the scapegoat even in death. Others insist that Carrie was responsible for the wildfire, possessing a type of unexplainable strength and power. No one can prove this true nor false. If Carrie is truly guilty for the tragic deaths of so many people remains a cold case.
Carrie's story becomes so popular that it is eventually made into a movie. This disgusts Sue, because she feels that the tragedy is being glamorized for people can forget about it. But Sue warns and advices everyone that forgetting Carrie White and tarnishing her memory may be a much bigger mistake than anyone may realize.
Meanwhile, Chamberlain Maine is a nearly abandoned ghost town. The tragedy by now has made headlines across America. The Night of The Black Prom has hit the nation bigger than the JFK Assassination. Science begins to take telekinesis very seriously. Miss. Desjardin resigns as a teacher due to her guilt over Carrie as well as Principal Grayle and a heartbroken Sue Snell goes on to write a memoir about her high school experiences and her involvement with Carrie White. titled "My Name is Sue Snell". It is implied, she has begun embracing death because of the experience and the attempts of the White Commission to make her a scapegoat.
The majority of the few survivors and their families are grieving over the tragic deaths of loved ones, who were killed at the prom, when Carrie White telekinetically locked everyone inside, or were caught in the chaos of the wildfire and explosions and didn't evacuate quick enough. They are also haunted by the guilt of having caused, one way or the other the rampage of Carrie and the fact of being seen as fools and assholes by the rest of the world makes matters even worse. Even looking at each other forces them to remember, what happened. After the funeral services are held for the dead, people are packing up and leaving town for good, never to return. It is also implied, that the ghost town has become a tourist attraction since then for all those, who want to know everything regarding Carrie White. With all the destruction intact, it was also easy to achieve that.
The White Commission, however, plays, to a certain extent, the catastrophe down and the book closes with a letter written by a woman in Tennessee, where it is implied her niece is developing very strong, advanced telepathic and telekinetic abilites of her own. This, however, could also indicate that Carrie's hurt and lonely spirit had been reborn and reincarnated into a more loving family to start over again in the hope of having a real friend.
In a graveyard in Maine, Carrie's head stone is briefly mentioned in Stephen King's novel "IT".
AdaptationsEditThe story was first adapted into a film in 1976, with Sissy Spacek in the titular role and Piper Laurie as Margaret White. It also spawned a 1999 sequel, starring Emily Bergl as Carrie's half-sister, Rachel Lang. Two film remakes were also made; one for television in 2002 starring Angela Bettis and Patricia Clarkson, and again for the big screen in 2013 starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore.
In 1988, a musical based on the novel came out on Broadway, but closed after five performances. It has since been revived Off-Broadway in 2012.
The audiobook version of Carrie is read by Sissy Spacek, who played the part of Carrie in the first film adaptation of the novel.
Carrie was referenced in The Dead Zone, p. 344; "'He set it on fire by his mind, just like in that book Carrie.'"