Prior to Carrie, the only Stephen King books I’d read were his more recent ones (except for Firestarter, which I read perhaps 100 times in eighth grade) so going back to his first novel was kind of fun.
Carrie White is the girl that gets picked on by all the mean popular girls. She has her first period at age seventeen in the shower after gym class. Her insanely religious mother never told her what this meant, and Carrie thinks she’s bleeding to death. The other girls make fun of her. Carrie is bitter, confused and angry. With the onset of her late puberty, she also develops telekinetic powers. One girl tries to make amends. Carrie goes to prom. There’s a practical joke and then Carrie turns her powers against her classmates.
My English classes just finished reading Lord of the Flies (my Lost post on that is here) and the question always comes up: what would happen if it were a bunch of girls? With Lord of the Flies in my head, I couldn’t help but think of Carrie as a kind of female version, with Carrie playing the part of poor doomed Piggy. With that thought in mind, it was hard not to think of Carrie as an examination of the effects of cliquish cruelty on the outsider, the kind of fiction that makes one think of things like Columbine.
Unlike much of King’s more recent work, Carrie is short and brisk. It’s a fast-paced novel that tells the story from a variety of viewpoints including investigatory committee hearings, police reports, letters, books written by survivors, scientific articles, and popular news pieces all interspersed with King’s no-frills narration. It’s one of those books where the form is part of the enjoyment of the text. A good read.
On to Lost. The first five minutes of season three was one of the most amazing sequences I’ve ever seen on TV. We meet Juliet hosting a book group meeting with no idea who she or any of the members are. She puts in a CD, burns some muffins and deals with book group members who complain about her book choice: Carrie. There’s a rumbling, they all run outside and there in the sky is Oceanic 815 breaking up above them. Suddenly, we realize that Juliet is one of the Others and that they live in nice houses with electricity and plumbing. They have the ability to score at least ten copies of recent editions of Carrie from the outside world. Your head spins.
Juliet says she chose Carrie because it’s her favorite book. What does this reveal about Juliet? Well, now that I’ve read Carrie and gotten to know Juliet a bit better its easy to see that Carrie White and Juliet the Other are both outsiders in their communities. Like Carrie, Juliet plots revenge (I wrote about this in my To Kill a Mockingbird post) against her own people. They are cruel to her (first sentencing her to death and then finally branding her in “Stranger in a Strange Land”) and don’t appear to think of her as one of them.
Like Carrie White, Juliet vacillates between being sweetly concerned with being liked and being an accomplished and merciless asskicker, though without Carrie’s telekinetic powers (I think). We saw this in last Wednesday’s episode (“Left Behind”) in which, Juliet cuffed herself to Kate so that she would have someone to be with after being abadoned by the Others. She appears to want to be with the Oceanic 815 survivors, but her manipulative nature and the fact that she wasn’t straight with Kate suggest to me that she may not be 100% on the side of the survivors. Perhaps, Like Carrie, Juliet is ultimately on her own side and all the while wishing desperately that she could fit in somewhere.
Next week’s episode features more Juliet flashbacks with Sayid, himself an accomplished and merciless asskicker, apparently offering to kill her if she doesn’t tell him everything. Can’t wait.
Other connections via Lostpedia:
- Carrie White, the eponymous heroine, attends Ewen High School. The principal of that school is named Henry Grayle (similar name to Henry Gale).
- In a Carrie TV Movie, the role of villainess Chris Hargensen was played by Emilie de Ravin, who currently portrays Claire.
This is also yet another Lost book that deals with mental/psychic/telekinetic powers.
Having nothing to do with Carrie, but interesting nonetheless, here are some links to three interesting posts about last week’s controversial Nikki & Paolo episode, “Expose” (which I really liked, by the way):
- Check the Fien Print wonders if “Expose” was Lost’s own version of Rosencrantz & Gildenstern Are Dead
- South Dakota Dark commends the episode for giving the viewers a break
- The House Next Door has some very good and amusing analysis as well. In fact, check back there every Thursday for good analysis (h/t to Scribes & Scoundrels for directing me there)
Next up… Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov.