Study Guide

Carrie White in Carrie

By Stephen King

Carrie White

They're All Going to Laugh at You

In case you've been in a nuclear fallout bunker your whole life and haven't seen either of the movie adaptations of Carrie or read the book, here's a quick summary of Carrie's story: sixteen-year-old Carrie White has always been the butt of every joke.

She's assaulted with tampons in the shower, and, in the end, she gets pig's blood dumped on her at the prom. Somewhere amidst all this abuse, Carrie realizes she's telekinetic. Dude, she can move objects with her mind.

Why do we care? Well, when she reaches her breaking point, she uses her superpowers to exact revenge. And when Carrie goes revenge, she goes big; she pretty much burns her whole hometown to the ground.

Seriously, though, guys. Getting your period for the first time can be traumatizing enough, and on top of that, Carrie gets ridiculed for it. We think that would make anyone go a little loco.

Plus, Carrie takes it exceptionally hard because this is the culmination of years of bullying. She laments:

They laughed at me. Threw things. They've always laughed. (1.104)

Little Momma Carrie

Carrie doesn't fit in for a variety of reasons. Most of them, though, are a result of her mother's awful treatment of her. She dresses frumpy (she wears a girdle, ugh) and is socially awkward to the extreme.

But it's hard not to be when your mom abuses you all the time, and basically never lets you leave the house. When you step back and think about, it kind of seems like Carrie's Momma is trying to make her into a tiny version of herself… and no young girl wants to look like Verne Troyer.

One example of this is Momma's obsession with religion. She is always talking about sin and damnation and Jesus coming back with a vengeance. And Carrie eventually buys into her mother's religious beliefs.

She wishes she could be Jesus' "sword and His arm" (1.145). So, logically, she carries out her own violent reckoning. Uh-oh.

Meanwhile, Carrie's mother fears that her daughter is Satan… but could her daughter actually be Jesus? After all, Carrie's violent rampage is perfectly in line with Momma's beliefs in salvation through violence. This religion business is confusing sometimes.

In the end, you could say that Carrie becomes her Momma. "Let them burn, then" (2.698), she says, believing, like Momma, that all sinners should die at the hands of an angry god. Just as Momma fancies herself a preacher, Carrie begins to fancy herself as God.

Carrie vs. Everyone Else

When Carrie goes home after killing everyone at the prom, she says, "Oh Momma help me!" Maybe she feels bad for what she's done. Carrie does cry over Tommy, her prom date who dies when a bucket falls on his head (the one death that isn't Carrie's fault).

But she doesn't cry over the other innocents she killed during the prom. Of course, they all laughed at her. But did they? Maybe in her state, she just imagined that everyone was laughing at her.

There had to have been a few guys and gals that felt bad for her, right?

No matter what the reality was, Carrie always feels like it's her against the world. In this way, she's also just like her mother; she thinks it's her job to inflict punishment on all the sinners who have escaped the wrath they so justly deserve.

Amen. Oh, we mean, ahem. That got a little scary there. It's incredible how quickly a little power can drive a person to megalomaniacal destruction, isn't it?

Especially if they've never had any power before. We think there's a lesson in here, Shmoopers… Sniff it out.

So Carrie kind of takes the old adage, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me," and reverses it. She sits around and takes the blame for others' bullying for years and years. But then Carrie finally realizes that she isn't the problem: the bullies are.

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