Study Guide

Tommy Ross in Carrie

By Stephen King

Tommy Ross

Knight in a Shining Ford

Tommy is Sue's boyfriend, whom she wants to ask Carrie to the prom. He does. He's even super sweet to her. He's so sweet to her that we believe he might actually care for her. Unfortunately, being a nice guy ends up causing his death.

When Chris Hargensen drops the pig's blood on the unsuspecting King and Queen of prom, the bucket hits Tommy in the head and kills him.

Tommy's death is pretty tragic, and it's played up to be one of the most tragic deaths in the novel. He's a genuinely caring person, it seems. He helps Sue when she's anxious, gives her advice, and even pleases her in bed (or at least in the backseat of his 1963 Ford).

Plus, he agrees to ask Carrie to the prom when Sue wants him to, and he even makes Carrie feel good about herself.

Tommy's arguably the only decent man in the book, so his death almost suggests that there is no place for actual nice guys in this world. (Can we tell that to the Nice Guys of OKCupid?)

But isn't his character a bit sexist? Why does it seem like his "job" in the novel is to take care of the emotions of all the women around him—namely Carrie and Sue. Is a man's role really to take charge of how women feel?

Sinners and Saints

The Shadow Exploded, the book-within-a-book about the prom incident, tries to make it seem like Tommy isn't a saint. It tells us, "The phrase 'dumb jock' expresses this view of Tommy Ross perfectly" (1.631). But honestly, Tommy's actions prove that he was no fool.

The Shadow Exploded even says later that Tommy "appeared to be something of a rarity: a socially conscious young man" (1.635). That may be even better than being a saint. He always does what he thinks is right, and he always has the best of intentions.

And, for all the ladies out there, Tommy is handsome and charming. And he knows how to show a girl a good time. He's the type of man who would take care of a girl… you know, if he hadn't died by having a bucket fall on his head.

(Hm, maybe he is a saint. Saints have to be dead, after all.)

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