Author: King, Stephen

Title: Carrie

Genre: Horror          

Publication Date: 1974

Number of Pages:  253

Geographical Setting: Small town of Chamberlain, Maine

Time Period: 1970s

Series: No

Plot Summary: There is a Carrie in every high school: a social outcast tormented by her peers. But Carrie White, the daughter of a maniacal and abusive religious fanatic and the sympathetic sixteen-year-old protagonist of Stephen King’s psychologically astute horror novel, is an outcast with a difference: she has the power to move objects with her mind, the power to bring about disaster–a power intensified in moments of emotional turmoil and anguish. This power peaks when Carrie, long the victim of cruelty and mockery, is invited to the prom by a popular and charismatic classmate at the behest of compassionate girlfriend, who feels guilty for her small part in the ugly incident that opens the novel. The results of her good intentions are blood, death and devastation. King excels at recreating the often horrifically cruel world of high school, and creates suspense through the reader’s empathy for Carrie. Although the story unfolds slowly at first, King lures you in with hints of the devastation to come, which is revealed through excerpts from articles, memoirs, and books about “White case” that are interspersed throughout the novel. A compelling and thought-provoking read that portrays the horror of violence and death alongside the horror of man’s inhumanity to man—or, in this case, teenager’s inhumanity to teenager. Red flags: cruelty, brief violence, brief sex.

Subject Headings: Bullying and Bullies; High School Students; Horror Tales; Horror Fiction; Maine; Parapsychology; Psychokinesis; Teenagers; Teenage Girls; Telekinesis;

Appeal: Psychological, suspenseful, compelling, deliberately paced, engrossing, sympathetic protagonist, dramatic, intriguing, frightening, occasionally violent, multiple points of view, well-drawn characters, character-driven, thought-provoking, evocative, interior, dark, foreboding, nightmarish, accessible, direct style, vivid, haunting, timeless.

Relevant Fiction: Myers, Walter Dean. (Written for teens but with appeal to adults, also focuses on high school students and cruelty culminating in a fatal outcome. Also uses a similar narrative device—multiple perspectives via interviews, articles, etc. to illuminate the events). Straub, Peter. Lost Boy Lost Girl (Features the supernatural, teenagers, sympathetic and richly drawn main characters, small town life, and multiple interpretations of events). Bradbury, Ray. Something Wicked This Way Comes. Features a sympathetic adolescent protagonist from a small town, the everyday commingled with the supernatural, and the darkness of the human heart.

Relevant Nonfiction: Gresh, Louis L. The Science of Stephen King: From Carrie to Cell, the Terrifying Truth Behind the Horror Master’s Fiction. (Scientific concepts used in King’s fiction, like pyrokinesis, as well as other authors’ fiction). Charpak, Georges and Henri Broch. Debunked!: ESP, Telekinesis, and Other Pseudoscience (Examines for validity and/or lack thereof pseudo-scientific subjects like astrology and telekinesis, the latter of which is depicted in Carrie). Simmons, Rachel. Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls (Based on interviews with over 300 girls, examines bullying, aggression and cruelty in girls).


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One Response to “Carrie”

  1. laura110 Says:

    Under “relevant fiction,” I inadvertently omitted the title of Walter Dean Myers’ novel, which is Shooter.

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