Carrie by Stephen King

Chris Freeman
Director of Financial Aid

These days, one hears a lot on the subject of bullying. It’s in the news everywhere, and young people have a much different attitude towards bullying than they used to several decades ago. The dramatic death of Matthew Shepard in 1998 started a chain reaction, and now, every time a gay youth is harmed or commits suicide, the media is all over it, exposing this kind of ugly abuse for the world to see.

Back in 1975 when I was 14 years old and living in a small town in SW Washington State, I was being beaten up nearly once a week by different groups of bullies for being gay. I longed for revenge and hoped that karma would act quickly so that I could see my foes take what they’d dished out. Retribution.

That’s when I first read Carrie.

This book carries a huge anti-bullying message, that you just don’t know what someone is going through, or what they’re capable of if pushed too far. And while I did not grow up with a Bible-quoting lunatic like Carrie’s mother, Margaret White, my own parents were not supportive or understanding, so I felt isolated and alone, like Carrie.

I carried this book around with me daily, like some sort of talisman or personal Bible, and if something bad happened to me at school, I would read certain sections of the book to keep me calm and centered.

Carrie is a horror story, make no mistake; but Stephen King really found the inner voice of someone who is deeply tortured, someone we can relate to in our most vulnerable moments. And that surpasses the genre of horror. I would definitely consider this book influential.
On Stephen King, Linda C. Badley, Salem Press
Carrie Creators Resurrect a Legendary Flop, NPR
“In King’s new novel, 11/22/63, the sense of justice that has always animated his fiction, his hatred of bullies and bigots and busybodies, collides with the futility of extracting revenge,” Charles Taylor, The Nation
“She’d read my stuff and felt certain I’d some day support us by writing full time, instead of standing in front of a blackboard and spouting on about Jack London and Ogden Nash. She never made a big deal of this. It was just a fact of our lives. We lived in a trailer and she made a writing space for me in the tiny laundry room with a desk and her Olivetti portable between the washer and dryer. She still tells people I married her for that typewriter but that’s only partly true.” From Stephen King’s acceptance speech, Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award, 2003, National Book Foundation

(Image from David Foster Wallace’s copy of Carrie.)

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