Study Guide

Carrie The Supernatural

By Stephen King

The Supernatural

It was reliably reported by several persons that a rain of stones fell from a clear blue sky on Carlin Street in the town of Chamberlain on August 17th. (1.2)

Carrie begins with a bang. Or at least a few thuds. This first line lets us know that eerie stuff is happening in Chamberlain.

What none of them knew, of course, was that Carrie White was telekinetic. (1.5)

Stephen King isn't much for subtlety here. He lets us know, point blank, that Carrie has special powers. Maybe she had something to do with that rain of stones, huh?

There was a bright flash overhead, followed by a flashgun-like pop as a lightbulb sizzled and went out. (1.65)

This small explosion is the first expression we see of Carrie's power (if you don't count the stones that fell thirteen years ago). It illustrates the point that one's powers of telekinesis will manifest when you're under extreme stress. Being bombarded with tampons in the shower… yeah, that sounds pretty stressful.

"I thought I set that ashtray back on the desk further. Funny how things fall over." (1.114)

It's also funny how no one seems to notice these things—lightbulbs popping, ashtrays flipping—all happen when Carrie is stressed. And by "funny," we mean "totally tragic," because if someone <em>had </em>been paying some attention to Carrie, a lot of lives may have been saved.

[Carrie] had been thinking: (fall off that bike kid push you off that bike and split your rotten head) and something had happened. (1.155-1.157)

This is the moment when Carrie realizes that she can control her powers… even though she's not quite sure yet what her powers even are. But the realization that she can do supernatural things is empowering, in and of itself. So Carrie starts to gain a little confidence.

[Carrie's] head began to feel tired and fuzzy, and it throbbed with the beginning of a headache. Her eyes were hot, as if she had just sat down and read the Book of Revelation straight through. (1.167)

Doing telekinesis really drains a girl. But the reference to the Book of Revelation is pretty telling here. This allusion illustrates that Carrie kind of feels like she's doing God's work by exacting her supernatural revenge on the poor people of Chamberlain, Maine. You get those sinners, Carrie. Yikes.

[Carrie] opened her eyes. Flex. The bureau rose into the air, trembled for a moment, and then rose until it nearly reached the ceiling. (1.645-1.647)

Carrie's supernatural powers require power, which is why she describes her mind as flexing whenever she moves things. Her telekinesis is like an invisible muscle she's just discovered, and she has to train it in order to make it stronger.

[Carrie] did not know if her gift had come from the lord of light or of darkness, and now, finally finding that she did not care which, she was overcome with an almost indescribable relief. (1.734)

Carrie's power seems to increase tenfold once she stops agonizing over whether it is good or evil. Hm.

[Sue] didn't know how she knew. It bore no relationship to anything she had ever read about telepathy. There were no pictures in her head, no great white flashes of revelation, only prosaic knowledge. (2.918)

We don't know exactly what happens here, except that Carrie starts to form some kind of psychic link with Sue. This link has to be supernatural, but it doesn't seem to be related to either Carrie's telekinesis or that old sci-fi favorite, telepathy. What exactly do you think is happening between Carrie and Sue here?

All school-age children will undergo the [TK] test. […] If the TK test shows positive, we have no treatment except a bullet in the head. (2.938, 2.939)

Um, this test has bigger consequences than the SATs for sure. Somehow, scientists have managed to nail down what makes someone telekinetic. Can something like telekinesis be both scientifically-testable, and supernatural or spiritual, do you think?