Study Guide

Sue Snell in Carrie

By Stephen King

Sue Snell

Something Snells Fishy

Sue Snell is one of the many girls who throw tampons at Carrie in the shower. They should really put a sign up: "Don't flush tampons down the toilet, or throw them at each other." Importantly, though, Sue is the only one who seems to feel bad about it.

This guilt eats away at her for the whole novel. To absolve herself of it, she even has her boyfriend, Tommy, ask Carrie to prom.

So you can think of Sue as the girl who sets all the events of the novel into motion. And, as we see from excerpts of her memoir, she always feels ashamed about it… and not just because the school's punishment for her bullying made her miss out on one crazy prom night.

Even though Sue threw tampons at Carrie too, she feels "an odd, vexing mixture of hate, revulsion, exasperation, and pity" (1.23). She reports that when she joins in the bullying, she's "not really sure what she [is] doing" (1.40). Seems like she becomes a victim of mob mentality.

Don't get us wrong: she doesn't even like Carrie. The difference between Sue and the rest of the girls is that the rest of them want to tell Carrie (and show her by attacking her) how much they don't like her. Sue seems like she'd be happier if the Carries of the world ever existed.

Which is why she warns us to never forget Carrie White: "Forgetting Carrie White may be a bigger mistake than anyone realizes" (2.136). Because if history is forgotten, it's destined to repeat itself—are we right?

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know Nothing About You

Guilt isn't the same thing as affection. Or is it? Sue realizes that the only reason she cares for Carrie is because "she was being a hypocrite" (1.526).

By the end of the novel, we know that Sue never really liked Carrie, she was just preoccupied by feeling bad about throwing tampons at her.

If Sue actually cared, don't you think she'd have gotten to know Carrie as a person? Learned her favorite color and watched a movie with her while they painted each other's nails? That's what we do with all of our best friends. Anyway. Um.

We think Sue's main mistake is this: she says "someone ought to try and be sorry in a way that counts… in a way that means something" (1.588). But means something to whom? It's nice that she accepts her punishment for bullying Carrie and gives up her prom.

It's even nice that she gets her boyfriend to take Carrie to the prom. But she never asks what would make Carrie feel better—and we're pretty sure that's because she doesn't care.

Will the Real Susan Snell Please Stand Up?

Even though Sue writes her little book about Carrie, we don't ever learn much about Sue's personal life. We're told she was popular "all her life" (1.281), but she feels uneasy about always having people like her all of the time.

Why does she hold so much guilt? Is it because she knows that, at her core, she isn't better than anyone else—so really, she doesn't deserve all that attention? Or does she feel guilty for another reason?

As an adult, Sue's still got a heavy conscience about her treatment of Carrie. In her book, My Name is Susan Snell, she argues in her own defense: "We were kids" (1.556). "We were kids trying to do our best…" (1.560).

Okay, maybe she was trying to do her best. But we're not sure about the other girls. They only seem to have been trying to do their best to destroy each other.

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