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Candid Carrie: A Book Review of Stephen King's Novel Carrie

posted Oct 16, 2013, 7:10 PM by Diana Inbody   [ updated Oct 16, 2013, 7:16 PM ]

Jessica Cunningham    


        In Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, many deep, brooding questions are posed. The book focuses on Carrie White, a girl of bovine looks and the outcast of all outcasts. Raised with an extremely radical Christian mother who considers generally everything to be a sin, Carrie leads a sheltered life. The book begins with none other than an extremely disturbing gym shower scene. While showering, Carrie begins her first period. Never having had one before—her mother hid them from her—she freaks out, generally believing she is dying. The girls taunt her mercilessly, tossing tampons and pads at her and shouting. The gym teacher doesn’t even come to her aid, not for a moment thinking that at her age she had still not had her first experience with menstruation. As the book progresses and truths are revealed, the gym teacher and principal alike are floored at the behavior exhibited by the girls.

        

        Sue Snell, a girl who participated in bullying Carrie, feels exceptionally guilty for her part in the taunting and comes up with a genius way to atone for her ugly behavior. On the complete opposite side of the coin, spoiled Chris Hargensen, with a lawyer father, plots a way to take revenge on Carrie for the punishment they received for their illicit teasing. But what neither the girls, nor anyone, really knows is Carrie’s secret. She is gifted with telekinesis (the ability to move objects with the mind) and their individual treatment of her soon comes to grave consequences for all involved.


        The book is dark, typical of any Stephen King book, with mentions to blood, very adult themes, and religious insanity. I liked it a lot; it asked the question of the true value of popularity and explained why we should treat people like people, because we have no idea just what they may have suffered in their lives. The book also played on the idea of adolescent cruelty and values. Chris didn’'t feel that any of her actions deserved punishment. She spent her whole life using Carrie, and many other poor misfits at the school, as a scapegoat for her own insecurities.


        Chris got on my nerves to an insane extent. In my opinion, her character was a symbol of the pure negligence teenagers often have to the harm their bullying can have on a person. To cite recent news, a real-life example would be the girls charged in driving another girl to kill herself and expressing no remorse, that happened earlier this week in Florida. Chris’s father was also a symbol, I believe, of bad parenting. Both of these characters made me think of whether or not it was the actual fault of Chris for how she acted, or whether her parents were to blame. This is kind of like the lyrics to the Oompa Loompa song: “Blaming the kids is a lion of shame, you know exactly who's to blame: the mother and the father!” It was an interesting concept to ponder.


        Sue, on the opposite spectrum, had come to the point where she doubted all she’d ever known and its importance. She saw the pettiness in prom, popularity, sex, and many other things, coming to a great revelation that the suburban housewife life laid out for her was not at all what she had come to want.


        I liked Sue as a character a lot. To me, I find this “life of popularity” to be sad and undesirable. Sue had a great change in opinion, and I believe this symbolizes hope for humanity, as she shed light on the fact that not everyone who is high in social rank enjoys it. Personally it made me rethink the harsh judgments I’ve passed on popular people in the past, and believe many readers would do the same. Sue, in one part of the book stated, “They’ve hurt Carrie for the last time.” Sue showed compassion for Carrie, even if it was slightly from selfish means, and I really admired that about her character.


        Carrie, however, was desperately trying to find a way to just fit in and escape all the constant religious punishment from her mother—and the house she has constructed for them. She wanted to feel like she was a part of “them,” and sadly the only time she ever experienced this turned into a great disaster.


        I felt bad for Carrie, as I imagine any reader would. The way she was raised was to believe that any action she took --the unavoidable happening of puberty--is a sin, and she was an awful human being for taking part in it. Carrie was helpless and needed someone to show her just the slightest bit of kindness. Happily, this did come to her, but a little too late.


        The book brings about the following questions: what is fair revenge? Who is to blame for situations like the one that takes place in Carrie? When is enough truly enough?


        The book was the story of each of its characters, cross-referenced with King's own made-up newspaper, book, and magazine pieces, court testimonies, research, and many similar things for the aid of giving the story from many different perspectives. This helped construct a picture of the terrifying scene that unfolded on prom night, and created sympathies for everyone, at times even Chris. Stephen King had a dark way of telling a story that left a reader with a crucial moral lesson, something you wouldn’t expect, but admirable nonetheless. The book, as aforementioned, has a lot of adult material, so be aware.


        I’d say it’s a great book for any teenager to read to gain perspective in the most horrifying way possible. Teenagers in real life can be much like the ones created in King’s book, and hopefully through Carrie some of them may change their viewpoints as, I assumed, was King’s intention.


        Carrie goes up there as a classic book with a completely original and very controversial topic. For anyone who likes macabre, inquisitive stories about human nature, this is the book to check out.

    Additionally, the newest movie version of Carrie, starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore, comes out tomorrow so be sure to check it out as well.

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