Study Guide

Carrie Violence

By Stephen King

Violence

The girls were bombarding her with tampons and sanitary napkins. (1.39)

Make no mistake: bullying is almost always violent in nature. The girls may only be throwing cottony products at Carrie, but this is still assault.

[Margaret] was suspended twice while she was here-once for beating a classmate with her purse. Legend has it that Margaret saw the classmate smoking a cigarette. Peculiar religious views. (1.118)

Margaret White might be deeply religious, but she's no quiet pushover. She's a fire-and-brimstone type who wants to vanquish "the sinners," whoever she thinks they may be.

If only [the Day of Judgment] would be today and Jesus coming not with a lamb and a shepherd's crook, but with a boulder in each hand to crush the laughers and the snickerers, to root out the evil and destroy it screaming—a terrible Jesus of blood and righteousness. (1.143)

Despite her resistance to many of her Momma's teachings, Carrie buys into the notion that all sinners should be punished violently. Including her bullies, and maybe even by her own hand. We're guessing these two have Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God somewhere on their bookshelf.

"[Margaret] was clawing at her neck and cheeks, making red marks and scratches. She tore her dress." (1.201)

Margaret White is almost as likely to attack herself as she is to attack her daughter. Why does she self-harm? Can this self-directed aggression also be understood as a strategy for manipulating Carrie and others?

[Carrie] was intimidated but not stopped. Because, if she wanted to, she could send them all screaming into the streets. […] Like Samson in the temple, she could rain destruction on their heads if she so desired. (1.641)

Carrie isn't even talking about exacting revenge on her bullies here. She's talking about buying fabric. That's right: she's starting to have violent fantasies about shopping. It's incredible how fast her telekinetic powers go from lifting hairbrushes to dreams of destruction. Power and violence do seem intricately intertwined here.

Momma raised her hand to strike. "No!" The hand stopped in the dead air. […] The pie pan suddenly rose from the trivet on the table and hurled itself across the room. (1.716-1.719)

Throwing the pie pan is Carrie's way of retaliating against Momma's slap. Is violence the only way to respond to violence? What else, if anything, could Carrie have done?

An image of her broken, bloody corpse, thrown against the base of a telephone pole like a pile of rags, flashed through [Chris's] mind like a tabloid photograph. (2.103)

Chris has the violent image of her own death while in the car with Billy, who is a reckless driver. This is a bit of foreshadowing, because she does die inside Billy's car… at Carrie's hands. Eek.

Rhonda Simard was doing a crazed puppet dance in her green tulle formal. Its full skirt suddenly blazed into flame and she fell forward, still jerking. It might have been at that moment that Carrie went over the edge. (2.579)

We don't really know who Rhonda Simard is, and neither does Carrie. But Carrie does take some joy in this horrific image, and it prompts her to burn more people.

Let them burn, then. Let the streets be filled with the smell of their sacrifice. Let this place be called racca, ichabod, wormwood. (2.698)

Because Carrie's Momma has a tendency to focus on the fire-and-brimstone parts of the Bible, so does Carrie. Too bad Momma didn't pay more attention to the "Love thy neighbor" stuff that's in the good book…

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...