Steven King was a head of his time!
When he wrote Carrie nearly 40 years ago, it’s doubtful that he envisioned the state of the US and it’s teenagers these days.
With the recent remakes of the blockbuster movie starring Sissy Spacek, my students are interested in revisiting this novel. Well it’s revisiting for me for them it’s a new book but not a new theme.
Carrie is the outcast, the brunt of all jokes and disdain of the entire student body. King himself admits he hated the character of Carrie and almost trashed the project.
Yet, he couldn’t have known what would be in store for the generation of his children’s children.
Bullying is nothing new, yet it’s increasing violent and malevolent tenure has given rise to campaigns to stop bullying and end the rash of Suicides that have occurred as a result.
Yet haven’t we known someone like Carrie? Haven’t we felt like a milder version of the misfit in our painful growing years? True many haven’t been subjected to the steady physical, psychological, mental and emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother, but what I think most can identify with is the dichotomy of being ostracized by your peers vs the disgust she provokes within us.
It’s summed up in the gym teacher’s urge to hit Carrie for her ignorance, yet at the same time, her scorn for the bullies who tortured Carrie; and then her own admonishment for not reaching out, not trying to help Carrie earlier.
This wasn’t a case of Carrie suddenly appearing on the scene. She grew up in this small town with these children. She earned their disgust early, which is classic treatment with children.
“Carrie” begs the question about what would happen if just one adult in her 16 years had taken an interest in intervening on her behalf. It shows us how we go about our day insulated in our own thoughts, never risking even to rise our thoughts above the cursory awareness of the misfits that move throughout our world.
King accurately, if not a little heavy-handed, shows how monsters are made not born. In essence “Carrie” is his Frankenstein. So can you truly blame the monster for turning on it’s creators?
What is really scary for me is that works of fiction like this are read, digested and forgotten. It’s not until real life tragedies happen that we rise above our own self-absorption to say “oh?”
Columbine comes to mind. They turned on their peers but it’s what we heard later that’s most disturbing: how many were interviewed who said they knew something bad was coming? How many moved out rather than try and solve the problem? Isn’t that what we do? How neighborhoods “fall to pot”? Don’t get involved! Don’t take the risk! Don’t even pay attention–it will go away.
Humans are a selfish lot and our more altruistic traits tend to take a back seat to our dark tendencies. It’s why folks get so amazed when someone shows a simple act of kindness. They distrust it. There has to be a motive because we aren’t kind for no reason.
When did we get so jaded? So distrustful? When did it become a crime to help out a friend, neighbor, community member just because it’s the right thing to do?
Carrie holds a mirror up to today’s society and warns us that if we don’t wake up, we are creating monsters and those monsters will turn on us viciously and violently.