Study Guide

Carrie Summary

By Stephen King

Carrie Summary

You probably know how Carrie begins: a young girl (Carrie, naturally) gets her first period in the shower at high school. The other girls, being the sensitive creatures they are, yell at her and pelt her with tampons. One girl, Sue Snell, feels bad about the whole cruel scene.

But of course, she doesn't do anything to stop it. That would just be too… well… Nice. And logical.

After Miss Desjardin, the gym teacher, figures out what's going on, she punishes the troublemakers. The bullies' ringleader then blames Carrie for getting her in trouble. Because it's totally the victim's fault when you abuse someone. (Not.) Anyway, this chick, who's named Chris Hargensen, starts plotting her revenge.

Meanwhile, Carrie discovers that she's telekinetic. She can lift hairbrushes and knock over bratty kids on bicycles with her mind. (Can she carry our groceries for us? Get it? Carry? Ugh, we just have not had enough coffee today.)

Carrie has a lot of time to explore her special powers because she doesn't have any friends. Poor Carrie. Also, her super religious mother isn't much of a social butterfly herself. Margaret White blames sin for everything… like Carrie getting her period, for example.

Margaret makes Carrie's very existence seem like a sin. That's no good for self-esteem. Did we write, "poor Carrie" yet? Oh, we did? We feel that way a lot when we read this book. Until the end, at least.

Anyway, Sue Snell, still feels guilty about that whole tampon episode. So she convinces her boyfriend, Tommy Ross, to take Carrie to the prom. He asks her, and she accepts. Carrie makes her own beautiful dress and goes with Tommy to the prom.

She's scared the whole time that it's going to be a prank, because she's so used to the other kids being awful to her. Tommy is really nice to her, though.

Sadly, that's not the end of the story. No happily ever after here, kiddos. See, unbeknownst to Carrie, Chris Hargensen has rigged the prom elections so that Carrie and Tommy win King and Queen. And that's a crucial part of her plan to humiliate Carrie in front of the whole school.

When Carrie and Tommy get up on stage, Chris and her boyfriend dump buckets of pig's blood on Carrie and Tommy. A bucket even falls on Tommy's head and kills him.

But the whole school is preoccupied with laughing at Carrie. Or, at least in Carrie's mind, the girl who is now standing on-stage covered in pig's blood, everyone is laughing.

So she unleashes her telekinetic powers and kills everyone. She has people burned alive, electrocuted, you name it. Then, when she's finished with that, Carrie then starts taking out the whole town of Chamberlain, Maine. She lays waste to gas stations and churches in her path.

Nothing is sacred to Carrie, we guess. Especially not the religious institutions that seem to inspire her mom's abuse.

Finally, Carrie goes home. Now everyone (who's left, anyway) is safe and sound, right? Wrong. Carrie's mother tries to kill her.

But our Carrie kills Momma instead, then goes to the roadhouse where Chris and Billy are staying. She burns that roadhouse down to the ground.

Billy seeks revenge by trying to run Carrie over with his car. Carrie employs those special powers again, flips the car over, and kills both Chris and Billy. Then she feels kind of tired, so she lies down in the road to die.

At that moment, Sue is able to use her previously-unmentioned psychic powers to find Carrie's body. (No, we don't get this part either.) Sue stays with Carrie until she dies. And, using those powers we don't quite understand yet again, Sue finds out what it's like to die.

Needless to say, that kind of freaks her out.

At the very end of the novel, we see a letter from a mother to her sister. No, not from Carrie to Margaret. This is a communication between two characters we've never seen before.

In it, the mom describes her daughter, who can levitate marbles with her mind. "Hm, do we have another Carrie on her hands?" is clearly the question we're meant to be asking ourselves.

Our advice: keep your tampons to yourself.