Study Guide

Margaret White in Carrie

By Stephen King

Margaret White

Momma Dearest

Once you meet Carrie's Momma, all of Carrie's crazy is immediately explained. Margaret White has no friends and no husband (he died in a construction accident… we don't think telekinesis was involved, but how can you ever be sure?). She hurts herself when she gets angry.

Plus, she always hated her parents for their sinful ways. She even hates her daughter for her sinful ways. If there's one thing this woman is good at, it's hating sin. She even totes tracts around in her purse, probably leaving them under windshield wipers and sticking them in books at bookstores.

Margaret White hates sin so much, she doesn't think she sins at all. Well, that's not true. She sinned once: when she had sex with her husband. And the punishment was Carrie, her own daughter, whom Margaret believes is either the Antichrist or Satan himself.

She's so obsessed with her religious beliefs, she's willing to kill her own daughter to help cleanse the world of sin.

Repress This

Along with that anti-sinnin' fervor comes a repression of all things vaguely related to sex. We learn that Margaret doesn't teach Carrie anything about coming of age—and definitely not about getting her period.

In fact, Margaret's sexual repression is so extreme, she tries to deny any signs of sexuality in her daughter. She seems to think that if she ignores any signs of Carrie's physical maturation, then puberty will never happen to her. But Carrie's breasts prove Margaret wrong, and that makes her very, very angry.

You know, Momma is so repressed about basic aspects of sexuality, that she even denied she was pregnant with Carrie. We're told:

It staggers both the imagination and belief to advance the hypothesis that Mrs. Margaret White did not know she was pregnant. (1.74)

Hate the Sinner, Love the Sin

Yes, we realize that's backwards, but Margaret White's "near-fanatical religious beliefs" (1.71) are all kinds of backwards. She hates everyone who she sees as a sinner. And that means she lashes out at everyone: her parents, her neighbors, her daughter.

We're glad that poor spelling isn't a sin, because Carrie's mom isn't the most educated woman. In a letter to her own parents about how sinful they are, she writes "Ralph & I, like Mary & Joseph, will neither know or polute [sic] each other's flesh" (1.399).

So not only can she not spell at a third-grade level, she fancies herself to be the Virgin Mary. We've heard of a savior complex, but a mother-of-the-savior complex isn't something you hear about every day. We wonder if she thought she'd give birth to Jesus someday… but instead she got Carrie.

No wonder this woman thinks that Carrie is the Antichrist. Margaret thinks that she is the Anti-Mary.

Margaret's obsession with cleansing the world of sin, and so fancying herself a savior and everyone else as damned, really drives home how hypocritical she is. She even holds her own Church services:

Momma was the minister, Carrie the congregation. (1.324)

Momma's god complex prevents her from ever giving Carrie the help that she needs, not even when Carrie begs for it. Instead of helping Carrie, Momma beats and stabs her.

We think Momma's character is a good lesson in the fact that certain beliefs can be blinding. If Momma's so into the Bible, why does she ignore it's kinder teachings? Like, what ever happened to love thy neighbor?

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