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Retro Reading: Carrie by Stephen King

Updated on November 7, 2014
Dare to take Carrie to the Prom.
Dare to take Carrie to the Prom.

When a First Date Goes Bad

The blood. The taunting. The tampons. The Prom. You know it and the story very well.

If I'm not mistaken, Carrie was the first Stephen King book I read just before the movie came out. It was also the first time that I couldn't get in to see a movie since I was underage (but my best friend at the time-and a few months younger than me) was able to see it on his own. I guess I have good genes to look as young as I do.

Anyway, we know the story's about a bullied high school girl who in one week gets her first period, has her first date and in a fit of rage kills most of her senior class at the prom due to a prank.

I've always felt sorry for Carrie (at least in the Sissy Spacek version) but after reading the book, I wonder if I had it all wrong. Is she really a shy teen or a cold blooded killer?

Of course the movie and book are different, but in the book, it would have been much more interesting had King first told Carrie's story, then did a separate part regarding her actions and the "investigation" of the date of May 27, 1979, rather than mingle the story and investigation.

I'm not a mathematician, but King states Carrie was born on September 21, 1963. She would have graduated high school in June of 1981 so I'm not sure why she would be going to the prom in 1979. In an "excerpt" written by Sue Snell, from the book she wrote in 1986, she states they were 17. In actuality, they would have been 15 or 16 at the time of Carrie's meltdown.

By re-reading this classic King novel, you should realize that with three versions of the movie (two theatrical and one made-for-television) more elements were introduced in each version. I think the made-for-television version is about as close to the book that you'll find. Interestingly enough, the interviews of various characters do work in the movie, rather than in the book.

But was Carrie a cold blooded killer? After this retro read, I would have to say yes. She didn't feel any remorse for her actions, but then again, with being bullied all of her life and living with a psychotic mother, can you really blame her for her actions? I don't think there's a right or wrong answer to this question.

While it was good to go back to the original source material, I think it was kind of bad to go back and re-read it. I really went back just to refresh my memory and while the outcome is the same, no matter how many times you see the movie(s) you'll always remember Carrie.


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