Carrie Recaps: Part Fifteen
Sorry for the break in recaps – these posts tend to eat up quite a lot of time, so sometimes they have to get forgone if I have a lot of work to catch up on or, you know, if there’s a really good match on or the Oscars to deal with or something. We left off last time as the carnage at the prom began to unfold, and we pick up with an interview with a local drunk who recounts, in an exceptionally long Q-and-A session that I swear takes up a good half of this entire chapter, what he saw as Carrie started her rampage.
I think the most interesting thing about this section (I have mixed feelings about the epistolary telling of this story – sometimes, like here, it serves to give the story a little more colour, whereas other times it just ends up casting the whole thing into dull black-and-white) is the character who’s telling us the story. We don’t get to hear from him again as best is my recollection of the rest of the book, but everything we hear about him in this segment – his drinking making him mean, his inability to control his temper, and the fact that he voluntarily goes to the cops to get himself locked up when he feels himself losing his grip – feels so much more like a traditional Stephen King character than almost anything in this novel so far. Lots of King’s books deal with addiction (especially to alcohol) in one form or another, and this character especially feels like he could be a blueprint for Jack Torrance (of The Shining fame). There aren’t many authors with the kind of back catalog that Stephen King has, let alone one with as many recurring themes and character traits (or indeed, just straight-up recurring characters) as his, and I really love drawing the threads between his books and seeing the gestation of some of his ideas and characters. Anyway.
The narrator in this section talks about having seen Carrie making her way down the high street, exploding a fire hydrant with her mind, and most notably, mentions that he could hear the thoughts inside her head; it’s then that we take a jump back to the moment when the buckets of blood fell and Carrie began her rampage, but this time we’re in Carrie’s POV.
Carrie flashes back to the shower scene that opened the book (I wish there was a better way to refer to it, by the way, since shower scene makes it sound like a sexy softcore – oh, wait, no, that’s exactly how Stephen King wrote it, carry on), and the horror of what is happening to her really sinks in and is actually conveyed with a lot of skill; I don’t think this book is King’s best-written in terms of straight prose (that’s still Pet Semetary, and if anyone tries to correct my spelling on that they’re banned from reading the rest of these recaps), but there are moments of really shining skill here and this is one of them:
“The horrible realization of how badly she had been cheated came over her, and a horrible, soundless cry
(they’re LOOKING at me)
tried to come out of her. She put her hands over her face to hide it and staggered out of the chair. Her only thought was to run, to get out of the light, to let the darkness have her and hide her…The grinding laughter swelled louder. It was like rocks rubbing together.”
Now, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Carrie POV and how it doesn’t work with the actual way this story is told, but maybe there’s an explanation for it here. Earlier in the chapter we had a character mention that they could hear Carrie’s thoughts, despite not really understanding how or why. While it’s never really put into so many words, I suppose that could be a reason that Carrie’s point-of-view is such a big part of this story? In theory, the people who survived might have picked up on enough of her thoughts to piece together what she was thinking. I mean, I know it’s kind of crappy when you have to twist something around to make it fit and make sense (especially in a book so keen on giving explanations for every little thing), but I’ve been watching Star Wars and it’s fucking midichlorians enough to be used to making up my own explanatory headcanons by now. I guess I’ll take it. Anyway, back to the chapter.
She tosses Miss Desjardin across the room as she approaches to help her, and flees the hall, leaving behind her classmates. But then, she changes her mind and decides to flood out the hall, knowing that they are all trapped inside – she forces the sprinklers to start, and then watches as someone goes to retrieve Tommy from the stage and ends up electrocuted by the wires in the water. And it’s here, with her first dedicated kill of the night, that we leave Carrie this time around: the next few chapters are where we really get into the prom night massacre, and I’m looking forward to seeing how King handles the real horror-driven sections of the narrative – and hey, look at that, another whole recap without any mention of titties. He’s practically on a roll.
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(header image courtesy of Feo Amantes Horror Thriller)