Re-reading "Carrie" as a parent...

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paper_is_sweet

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2009
261
967
37
Baltimore, MD
#1
When I first read Carrie, I was in high school. At that point, the horror in that novel (for me) came from both Chris' treatment of Carrie and Carrie's reaction to it. I vacillated between pitying Carrie and fearing her (her, not her powers). The supernatural aspects notwithstanding, SK's portrayal of high school social dynamics, and the relentless bullying Carrie suffered as a result of them, is disturbingly accurate. And, with more than a little guilt, I realized that I wouldn't have befriended Carrie. I'm certain I wouldn't have targeted or harassed her like some of the characters did, but I wouldn't have gone out of my way to comfort or protect her, either. In fact, I knew then (and still know now) that I would have done my best to avoid her completely. She was the embodiment of a lot of my adolescent female fears, a contagious disease, a form of social leprosy.

However, I re-read Carrie shortly after my daughter was born (after indulging in De Palma's Technicolor bloodbath adaptation) and found myself horrified on another level, and by a completely different aspect: Margaret White. Obviously Margaret's treatment of her daughter is abusive to a point that strains the imagination, and her insistence that all the abuse is for Carrie's own good (Margaret's in the business of saving eternal souls, after all) is revolting. After putting the book down and picking my daughter up, I was struck by just how much we shape our children.

Which brings me to my question,if it had not been for Margaret White, might Carrie White have turned out ok, despite her scary telekinesis?
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
6,211
57
#2
Certainly she might have; as pigs might fly but that they lack aerodynamics.

It's the central question in teenagerdom (and in Carrie), isn't it?

Might I be okay?

Is there some way that even I fit into all this?

Taking Margaret White out of the equation certainly isn't going to hurt Carrie's chances of turning out "ok" (a nebulous distinction, it seems to me), but who is to say what might happen if her power developed in a "nurturing" environment.

You know . . . I believe there's a story about that, too.

Another young girl with a power she doesn't understand.

And a loving family.

What could possibly go wrong?

; )
 

doowopgirl

very avid fan
Aug 7, 2009
6,695
23,294
60
dublin ireland
#3
I think Carrie still would have been disturbed. Who wouldn't with a power you don't understand and can't control? Being different will always get you attention, good or bad. Perhaps with a different parent it might not have been so destructive. Paper is sweet, we do shape our children in ways that sometimes don't even realize.
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
6,211
57
#4
I think Carrie still would have been disturbed. Who wouldn't with a power you don't understand and can't control? Being different will always get you attention, good or bad. Perhaps with a different parent it might not have been so destructive. Paper is sweet, we do shape our children in ways that sometimes don't even realize.
This is very important to remember. I made a joke in another thread -- a thread about irony -- about parents teaching their children "do as I say and not as I do." But you can't really separate the teaching from the living, can you? Carrie might flourish in a different, more nuturing environment, but the thing you have to remember is that -- as far as she knows -- her home environment is perfectly "normal" and it's all those crazy kids at the school who are weird. Nature never lets nurture very far out of its sights. Trust me on this. Anyone who thinks it's an either-or-situation is probably a salesman.

In any case, Carrie doesn't have any context, and it seems to me that this is what the story is really about. Carrie sees a way that her life might be at least different, if not necessarily better, but I would be willing to argue the case that she's at least as scared of the kids at school -- and the teachers -- as she is of Jesus (meaning her mom). So, the power becomes secondary to who Carrie can be independent of it.

Except, of course, that she can't really be independent of it . . . no more than girls can be independent of becoming women. And there is power in that. Dangerous power.

Isn't there, fellas?

And therein lies the tale.

; )
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
82,541
319,885
57
Cambridge, Ohio
#5
When I first read Carrie, I was in high school. At that point, the horror in that novel (for me) came from both Chris' treatment of Carrie and Carrie's reaction to it. I vacillated between pitying Carrie and fearing her (her, not her powers). The supernatural aspects notwithstanding, SK's portrayal of high school social dynamics, and the relentless bullying Carrie suffered as a result of them, is disturbingly accurate. And, with more than a little guilt, I realized that I wouldn't have befriended Carrie. I'm certain I wouldn't have targeted or harassed her like some of the characters did, but I wouldn't have gone out of my way to comfort or protect her, either. In fact, I knew then (and still know now) that I would have done my best to avoid her completely. She was the embodiment of a lot of my adolescent female fears, a contagious disease, a form of social leprosy.

However, I re-read Carrie shortly after my daughter was born (after indulging in De Palma's Technicolor bloodbath adaptation) and found myself horrified on another level, and by a completely different aspect: Margaret White. Obviously Margaret's treatment of her daughter is abusive to a point that strains the imagination, and her insistence that all the abuse is for Carrie's own good (Margaret's in the business of saving eternal souls, after all) is revolting. After putting the book down and picking my daughter up, I was struck by just how much we shape our children.

Which brings me to my question,if it had not been for Margaret White, might Carrie White have turned out ok, despite her scary telekinesis?
...wild talents are just that-wild....Carrie might well have been a "normal" teenage girl(hahahaha), but still-I think she would have de-railed somewhere because of the hormonal stew all teens have inside them...
 

paper_is_sweet

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2009
261
967
37
Baltimore, MD
#6
...wild talents are just that-wild....Carrie might well have been a "normal" teenage girl(hahahaha), but still-I think she would have de-railed somewhere because of the hormonal stew all teens have inside them...
I agree that Carrie never had a shot at "normal," but most teens don't commit mass murder when they "de-rail." While Carrie probably wouldn't have escaped all the badness altogether, I suspect she (and the town) would have ended up better off if Margaret White weren't so deeply mentally ill.
 
Last edited:

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
6,211
57
#7
Giant's probably right about that "hormonal stew" thing. Again, I think that goes directly to the heart of the story. The power has to get out -- that whole puberty thing -- radical change we don't necessarily understand. That's why I mentioned (well, I didn't actually "mention" it, did I?) Firestarter in my other response.

That's a story about what can happen in a similar situation when you try to indtroduce "structure" to a "wild card."

In short: Doesn't work.

And I would suspect the same thing here. I think that even without Margaret's parochial and heavy-handed influence, Carrie is still going to lose it all over the place. It's just way too big for her.

That happens to kids a lot.

Stuff is too big for them.
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
82,541
319,885
57
Cambridge, Ohio
#8
I agree that Carrie never had a shot at "normal," but most teens don't commit mass murder when they "de-rail." While Carrie probably wouldn't have escaped all the badness altogether, I suspect she (and the town) would have ended up better off is Margaret White weren't so deeply mentally ill.
...I concur....
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
6,211
57
#9
I agree that Carrie never had a shot at "normal," but most teens don't commit mass murder when they "de-rail." While Carrie probably wouldn't have escaped all the badness altogether, I suspect she (and the town) would have ended up better off is Margaret White weren't so deeply mentally ill.
This is probably true.

I look at Carrie more like a snowball rolling down a hill. Sure, I would like to think that some of the people who were actually trying to understand Carrie might have been spared if she'd been less familiar with the idea of "penance." If Perhaps Margaret might have been a more New-Testament kind of crazy. But honestly, I think once Carrie got rolling she was just liking it too much.

Just the way Lord Acton said she would.
 

doowopgirl

very avid fan
Aug 7, 2009
6,695
23,294
60
dublin ireland
#10
This is very important to remember. I made a joke in another thread -- a thread about irony -- about parents teaching their children "do as I say and not as I do." But you can't really separate the teaching from the living, can you? Carrie might flourish in a different, more nuturing environment, but the thing you have to remember is that -- as far as she knows -- her home environment is perfectly "normal" and it's all those crazy kids at the school who are weird. Nature never lets nurture very far out of its sights. Trust me on this. Anyone who thinks it's an either-or-situation is probably a salesman.

In any case, Carrie doesn't have any context, and it seems to me that this is what the story is really about. Carrie sees a way that her life might be at least different, if not necessarily better, but I would be willing to argue the case that she's at least as scared of the kids at school -- and the teachers -- as she is of Jesus (meaning her mom). So, the power becomes secondary to who Carrie can be independent of it.

Except, of course, that she can't really be independent of it . . . no more than girls can be independent of becoming women. And there is power in that. Dangerous power.

Isn't there, fellas?

And therein lies the tale.

; )
Yes, nature and nurture are never very far apart and one influences the other. She was never be independent of what she has. Well said.
 

César Hernández-Meraz

Wants to be Nick, ends up as Larry
May 19, 2015
572
4,158
38
Aguascalientes, Mexico
#11
We get a glimpse of another girl with Carrie-like powers in Doctor Sleep. I am not sure if that is the story Pucker meant in the second post.

If you have not read it, go check it out if you want to see if a different situation may end up helping the girl be more adapted. Know that this girl will be in contact with Danny Torrance, from The Shining, who already has been exposed to someone who lost himself to anger and violence.

As for Margaret White... I loved the performance in the old movie. I know people can be like that. I thought the new movie lost much by having her lose all that "in your face" attitude. However, it also gained some scary points by having her act more normal, so people would not expect anything that crazy from her (as much as they would have from the old movie's Margaret).

And I liked how they showed more of her love for Carrie.
I remember being impacted by how Margaret "knew" she HAD to kill Carrie when she was born (or before), because she was a product of her sins and her husband's. But she loved Carrie so much she became weak and let her live. She then knew she definitely had to kill her after the incident with the stones. And yet again, she let her live. Yes, Margaret was crazy, and yes, she lost sight of God's teachings of love because of her fixation on how lust is sinful, but I believe her when she says she loves Carrie (something more evident in the new movie). But that love makes her even scariest to me.
 
Likes: GNTLGNT

Lee9900

Deleted User
Jun 29, 2016
267
782
50
#12
Possibly.

But, she needed to be taken out of that school and she needs to be taught social skills first. if you don't have social skills you're pretty much going to end up being an anti social misanthrope.

She was an attractive girl, and with a better personality rather than cutting people down, she would have gone much farther in life than she had been allowed. Attractive people have an advantage over non attractive people and are more easily accepted in western culture than ugly people who look mentally retarded or are very obese, for example.

Her mother really did a huge hell of a lot of abusive junk that really hurt her.

It is not having powers that define you, it is how you use them, the choices that you make, that define you. Or like they say in the Ghost Rider , even though your powers may come from a dark place, it is you that gets to define yourself, not you powers (and as I like to add) and certainly not anybody else.

people are funny things.
 
Likes: GNTLGNT

Lee9900

Deleted User
Jun 29, 2016
267
782
50
#13
So in thinking about this post and reading up on Carrie in TV Tropes, I've come to realize, just today for the very first time, there is actually a double hidden meaning in the book and movie. i'm not sure if Mr. king had intended on it though, but inadvertently, it is there.

That is nature versus nurture.

And here is what I mean by having a double hidden meaning.

Carrie versus her mother.

I ally do feel that under a nurturing environment, Carrie would have been a much happier, ore rounded individual with a productive member of society.

Her mother was insane, completely and utterly insane, but i think her main breaking point was when she had sex with Carrie's unknown father.

Now here's a couple of random musings that occurred to me watching the movie.

What if Randall Flagg was her father?

And what if this incident at the high school and burning down the town was the incident that led tot he creation of The Shop? And what if that formula they used on Charlie's parents was derived from one of the things that Flagg created?
 
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