She had tried to fit. She had defied Momma in a hundred little ways, had tried to erase the red-plague circle that had been drawn around her from the first day […]. She could still remember that day, the stares, and the sudden, awful silence when she had gotten down on her knees before lunch in the school cafeteria – the laughter had begun on that day and had echoed up through the years (22).
Stephen King’s Carrie is definitely one of the horror classics. Most of you probably know what this story is about even if you haven’t read the book, but for those of you that don’t know… In short, Carrie is, big surprise, about Carrie, a teenage girl who lives with her fanatically religious mother in a small town. Because of her clothing and deviant behaviour, she is the laughingstock at school. When after a brutal teasing one of the participants shows regret and helps Carrie to come out of her shell a little bit, life finally looks up for her. Until one of the girls banned from prom for bullying Carrie takes revenge and all hell breaks loose.
Even if you are not a fan of the supernatural, Carrie might still be for you. Carrie’s telekinesis is the only thing supernatural in this novel. The real horror is the ruthlessness of teenage girls and mankind in general. Carrie, suitable for both teenagers and adults, can be a perfect starting point for a discussion about bullying at school and its consequences. This novel first published in 1974 is unfortunately still awfully contemporary. Stephen King gives us a painful reminder of the social hierarchy and peer pressure at school.
I must admit I am not a huge fan of Stephen King’s novels. Although his stories intrigue me and I always pause at the Stephen King section in second-hand bookshops, I have trouble finishing his books. The main reason is I find it difficult to relate with his main characters and Carrie is no exception. The narrator’s descriptions of Carrie only seem to create more distance and do not evoke empathy. The reader does not get a whole lot of insight in Carrie’s thoughts. Does she have hopes and dreams? How does she deal with the bullying?
Stephen King’s style of writing might keep me from getting lost in his books, his stories are out of this world. Carrie did not evoke as strong an emotion as I would have expected from such a vicious story, but I did finish it without any effort. Since it is a short read, it is a perfect novel for a dark and rainy evening.
King, Stephen. Carrie. London: Hodder & Stoughton, (1974) 2013.