The narrator is Charles Everett "Charlie" Decker, a senior at Placerville High School in Placerville, Maine. The story begins in the morning, when Charlie is called to the principal's office from his Algebra 2 class. His principal, Mr. Denver, wants to speak to Charlie about an incident that occurred two months earlier, where Charlie had struck his chemistry teacher, Mr. Carlson, in the head with a heavy wrench, leaving the man with severe brain damage and unable to continue his teaching career.
For as yet unrevealed reasons, Charlie snaps and responds with a series of insulting and vituperative remarks towards Mr. Denver, which prompts him to expel Charlie from Placerville High School. Charlie storms out of the principal's office and retrieves a semiautomatic pistol from his locker. After setting the contents of the locker on fire, he returns to his classroom and fatally shoots his teacher Mrs. Underwood. The fire sets off an alarm and students are beginning to be evacuated. Charlie tells his classmates to stay seated and then shoots another teacher, Mr. Vance, after Vance enters the classroom to notify students of the alarm. The students and teachers evacuate the school and police and media arrive on the scene.
King has decided to let Rage fall out of print in the United States, and it is now available only as part of The Bachman Books. The other novels that appeared in that compilation (The Long Walk, Roadwork, and The Running Man) are now published as separate books in the USA. Rage was for a time still available in the United Kingdom and other countries in The Bachman Books, but now appears to be unavailable. The novel can still be found in many libraries.
In a footnote to the preface of Blaze King wrote of Rage: "Now out of print, and a good thing." In a keynote address King delivered to the Vermont Library Conference, he explored the complex sociological and cultural issues surrounding this novel and its apparent link to school shootings, which he placed within the broader context of America's fixation on violence.
"The Carneal incident was enough for me. I asked my publisher to take the damned thing out of print. They concurred." King went on to describe his view on this subject, which acknowledged the culpability that cultural or artistic products such as Rage play in influencing individuals, particularly troubled youths, while also declaring that artists and writers can not be denied the aesthetic opportunity to draw upon their own culture — which is suffused with violence, according to King — in their work.
He went on to describe his inspiration for stories such as Rage, which drew heavily upon his own frustrations and pains as a high school student. In an article on the ominous writings of Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho for Entertainment Weekly, King said: "Certainly in this sensitized day and age, my own college writing – including a short story called "Cain Rose Up" and the novel Rage – would have raised red flags, and I'm certain someone would have tabbed me as mentally ill because of them...."
The audiobook was recorded in 1985 by Library of Congress Recording and read by Bob Askey.
|The Bachman Books|
|Rage • The Long Walk • Roadwork • The Running Man • Thinner • The Regulators • Blaze|