“Carrie” (Post 2/2)

Carrie 02[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 1

[27] King overuses his gimmick of mid-sentence parenthetical thought and does it in distracting lower case. It calls itself out so much that it takes you the reader out of the story instead of immersing. In the future, he’ll handle it better:

A runner of snot hung pendulously from her nose and she wiped it away

(if i had a nickel for every time she made me cry here)

with the back of her hand.


[28] Reference:

In the case of Andrea Kolintz (…) “The medicine cabinet flew open, bottles fell to the floor.”


Invention of King.

[29] Reference:

“I’d advise you to check Monondock Consolidated School District vs. Cranepool.” (…)

“Neither the Cranepool case (…) or the Frick case cover anything remotely concerned with physical or verbal abuse. There is, however, the case of School District #4 vs. David.”


Inventions of King’s. (Monondock sounds like a twisting of Monadnock, a mountain in New Hampshire.)


Mr. Edwin King, who had Carrie for grade seven English.


King’s middle name is Edwin and he was an English teacher at Hampden Academy (a high school) in the early 70s.

[31] References:

A wide selection of obscure cigarettes such as Murads, King Sano, and Marvel Straights.



Murad was a brand of cigarette containing only Turkish tobacco.


According to Cigarettespedia:

Only one brand, King Sano, manufactured by US Tobacco, focused exclusively on health claims in their ads.


The only mention of Marvel’s I can find is on cigarhistory.info:

From PM subsidiary, Stephano Bros., came Marvels.


[32] This feels oddly un-Kinglike:

Sue nodded and raised her hand, although dislike rose in her throat like a paper snake.


[33] Reference:

A tight basque blouse.



A basque is an item of women’s clothing. The term, of French origin, refers to a type of bodice or jacket, and in modern usage a long corset, characterized by a close, contoured fit and extending past the waistline over the hips.


She crossed off each day as it passed with a heavy black felt pen, and she supposed it expressed a very bad attitude toward life.


[35] Reference:

She sat down in the small Boston rocker.



An American wooden rocking chair having a solid, curved seat, often painted or grained, a spindle back, narrow rockers, and usually gilt designs stenciled on the crest rail.


“People don’t get better, they just get smarter. When you get smarter you don’t stop pulling the wings off flies, you just think of better reasons for doing it.”


[37] A really lovely passage:

Now she blinked, and as she did so, a strange thing happened. The time it took to happen could have been no more than the doorway to a second, but afterward she had no trouble recalling it, as one does with dreams or the sensation of déjà vu.


[38] Reference:

It was the Prayer of Exorcism from Deuteronomy.


There is a Prayer to Saint Michael which has a version used as an exorcism prayer, but I don’t believe it originates from Deuteronomy. The book of Deuteronomy consists of three sermons or speeches delivered to the Israelites by Moses on the plains of Moab, shortly before they entered the Promised Land.

[39] Chris Hargensen’s full name is Christine. Just wanted to put that out there.

[40] True?

Hemophilia, which becomes overt only in males. In that disease, once called “King’s Evil,” the gene is recessive in the female and is carried harmlessly.


Mostly true! I did not know this:

Haemophilia (also spelled hemophilia) is a mostly inherited genetic disorder. Haemophilia A affects about 1 in 5,000-10,000 while haemophilia B affects about 1 in 40,000 males at birth. As haemophilia A and B are X-linked recessive disorders females are very rarely severely affected. Some females with a nonfunctional gene on one of the X chromosomes may be mildly symptomatic. Haemophilia C occurs equally in both sexes and is mostly found in Ashkenazi Jews. In the 1800s haemophilia was common within the royal families of Europe. It was sometimes known as “the royal disease.”


Encyclopedia Britannica lists King’s evil as scrofula or struma, a tuberculous swelling of the lymph glands, once popularly supposed to be curable by the touch of royalty.

[41] Reference:

The roof of the ’61 Biscayne.



The Chevrolet Biscayne was a series of full-size cars produced between 1958 and 1972. The Biscayne was the least expensive model in the Chevrolet full-size car range. A ’61 Biscayne would have been in the second generation (1961-64).

[42] Total Twilight ZoneIt’s a Good Life” reference. Having the name Billy (a la Billy Mumy) in the scene is a good gag:

“Hell of a risk for a joke,” Jackie Talbot grumbled.

Billy stiffened. “You want out?”

“No u-uh,” Jackie said hastily (…) “It’s a good joke, Billy.”


[43] Like Post 1, note [9], this demand from Margaret White about her daughter’s prom dress will soon become mildly ironic:

“Burn it, Carrie! Cast that devil’s red from you and burn it! Burn it! Burn it! Burn it!


[44] References:

Faintly, through the board floor, came the thump of the juke playing “She’s Got to Be a Saint,” by Ray Price.



Ray Price (1926-2013) was an American country music singer, songwriter, and guitarist. His innovations, such as propelling the country beat from 2/4 to 4/4, known as the “Ray Price beat,” helped make country music more popular. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996 and continued to record and tour into his mid-eighties. “She’s Got to Be a Saint” was a Number 1 hit in the 1970s.

[45] Reference:

“You’re like Galatea.”


“Galatea. We read about her in Mr. Evers’ class. She turned from a drudge into a beautiful woman and nobody even knew her.”

She considered it. “I want them to know me,” she said finally.



Galatea (“she who is milk-white”) is a name popularly applied to the statue carved of ivory by Pygmalion of Cyprus, which then came to life, in Greek mythology. Galatea is also the name of Polylphemus’s object of desire in the myth of Acid and Galatea in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Neither story seems to be about a “drudge” turning into a beautiful woman. Is Tommy referring to the statue turning into a woman story?

[46] Reference:

I see the lights, I see the party lights,” he murmured.

“Huh?” (…)




Claudine Clark (b.1941) is an American R&B musician, best known as the singer and composer of the 1962 hit, “Party Lights,” which reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The chorus is:

Well, mama dear, tell me, do you hear?

They’re partying tonight

I tell you, I can’t sleep

Because across the street

Whoa, oh, I see the party lights (mama, mama)

Another line is:

I see Tommy and Joe, oh, oh, and Betty and Sue

I wouldn’t be surprised if this song influenced King enough to use the names Tommy (Ross) and Sue (Snell).


He worked without hurry, with the easeful concentration of one who is unable to conceive of interruption.


[48] Reference?

“I’m Don MacLean’s secret lover.”


The musician’s name is spelled “McLean” and even if this is a reference to him, I don’t understand it. There is a historical Donald Maclean:

Donald Maclean (1913-1983) was a British diplomat and member of the Cambridge Five who acted as spies for the Soviet Union. (This would be a really bizarre reference for Carrie to make/know.)

[49] The most Stephen Kingy (in a great way) paragraph in the book:

While he held out the chair, she saw the candle and asked Tommy if he would light it. He did. Their eyes met over its flame. He reached out and took her hand. And the band played on.


[50] References:


500 Miles

Lemon Tree” (…)

Folk Music by John Swithen and Maureen Cowan.



500 Miles” (also known as “500 Miles Away from Home” or “Railroaders’ Lament”) is a song made popular in the United States and Europe during the 1960s folk revival. The song is generally credited as being written by Hedy West.

Lemon Tree” is a folk song written by Will Holt in the late 1950s. The tune is based on the Brazilian folk song Meu liamo, meu limoerio, arranged by Jose Carlos Burle in 1937 and made popular by Brazilian singer Wilson Simonal. The song compares love to a lemon tree.

[51] The school’s colors are incredibly fitting. From the school song:

With pride we wear the red and whiiyyyyte.


And it’s not mere chance that King chose “White” and all its implications of purity and fairytales as Carrie’s last name.


She went to the window, but slowly.


[53] Reference:

She looked for all the world like Eddie Cantor doing that pop-eyed act of his.



Eddie Cantor (1892-1964) was an American “illustrated song” performer, comedian, dancer, singer, actor, and songwriter. His eye-rolling song-and-dance routines eventually led to his nickname “Banjo Eyes.” Cantor’s eyes became his trademark.

[54] The typos in my edition are out of control. For example, on one page:

It happened to the first gas station she came to, but it was not the last. (…)

From the sworm testimony of sheriff Otis Doyle.


The first sentence is missing a word (happened to be the first) and the second a misspelling (sworm should be sworn). This sort of thing is all over the place.

[55] Reference:

“This [fire] is going to be worse than the Coconut [sic] Grove.”



The Cocoanut Grove fire was the scene of the deadliest nightclub fire in history, killing 492 people and injuring hundreds more on November 28, 1942. It started in the fronds of fake palm trees.

[56] References:

Let this place be called racca [sic], ichabod, wormwood.



Matthew 5:22:

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his

brother without a cause shall be in danger of the

judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,

shall be in danger of the council.


The word Raca is original to the Greek manuscript, however it is not a Greek word. The most common view is that it is a reference to the Aramaic word reka, which literally means “empty one,” but probably meant “empty headed,” or “foolish.”

Some scholars have argued that raca can mean effeminate, and was a term of abuse for homosexuals. By these interpretations Jesus could be specifically condemning homophobia. Most scholars reject this view, considering it more likely that the terms were meant as general insults, rather than specific attacks on homosexuals.


Ichabod (“no glory,” “inglorious,” or “where is the glory?”) is mentioned in the first Book of Samuel as the son of Phinehas. In the Book of 1 Samuel, his name is said to be a reference to: the glory has departed from Israel.


We didn’t decide anything. We just went. I put on a pair of slippers – Rhonda’s, I think. They had little white puffballs on them. I should have worn my shoes, but I wasn’t thinking. I guess I’m not thinking now. What do you want to hear about my shoes for?


[58] …the fuck, Steve?

Her lip puffed to negroid size.



She began to drag herself across the parking lot, going nowhere.



Someone ran past, blabbering that Carlin Street was on fire. Good for Carlin Street.


We’re getting solid glimpses of King’s voice; moments where it hums. But only for a sentence here and there. You can’t lose yourself in Carrie like you can in his later work. This is an author trying to find his rhythm. For that, Carrie is a fascinating read.

[61] Reference:

A week after the tornado of ’54 [sic] had cut its path of death and destruction through Worcester, the air was filled with the sound of hammers, the smell of new timber, and a feeling of optimism and human resilence [sic].



The 1953 Worcester tornado was an extremely powerful tornado that struck the city and surrounding area of Worcester, Massachusetts on June 9, 1953. The storm stayed on the ground for nearly 90 minutes. In total, 94 people were killed, making it the 21st deadliest tornado in the history of the United States. In addition to the fatalities, over 1,000 people were injured and 4,000 buildings were damaged.

[62] Amusing that King felt he had to clarify who Bob Dylan was:

A line from a famous rock poet of the ‘60s, Bob Dylan, was written repeatedly.


[63] Reference:

From Amelia Jenks, Royal Knob, Tennessee.


Invention of King’s.

Carrie‘s plot may have been better served by a straight-forward third person narrative that switched between perspectives like much of King’s later work. The last seventy pages repeat many of the same events from similar perspectives and it causes the end – which should be damn exciting – to drag. King wasn’t yet ready for that large-ensemble, many-voices-in-many-styles novel (The Stand, 1978, is where this really broke out) and frankly, as a first-time author, he wouldn’t have been allowed that kind of stretching.

But I’m happy with what we get: a quick read – at times uneven, but mostly compelling – and a character that has joined the pantheon of horror classics. Carrie‘s a solid book to give younger horror fans looking to get into King.

This Friday, we’ll start looking at Thornton Wilder’s The Eighth Day.


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