Carrie Historical and Cultural Context 📖

‘Carrie’ is a novel that has impacted the horror genre since its release. The story has inspired many works of fiction to light, and it served as one of the first novels that defined horror from the perspective of young adults.


Stephen King

Being his first horror novel, ‘Carrie’ served as a guide for Stephen King as his later stories follow the same pattern of writing from the perspective of young teenagers and children. ‘Carrie’ on publication became an iconic novel, and though it did not flare up like some first novels of authors, it stood out and made Stephen King different.

Historical Context

‘Carrie’ is a novel that expresses horror from the view of a young teenage girl. The story holds historical significance as, during the time of its publication, very few stories paid attention to young adults. ‘Carrie’ brings something different to the table, as it not only defines the mind of a socially tormented teenager but defines how getting tortured adds to the pain of wanting revenge.

In the story, Carrie got rejected, and no matter how hard she tried, she never got accepted; this story resonates with the lives of many teenagers who struggle every day to fit in. Though the novel stressed a fanatically terrible side of religion, it still delivered its message.

Another element of Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ is the profanity, brutality, and racism portrayed by some characters. ‘Carrie’ defines some characters terribly, and at a specific point, it recognizes that some main characters had profanely inclined thoughts; this is evident in Sue’s thoughts that go:

The word she was avoiding was expressed to conform, in the infinitive, and it conjured up miserable images of hair in rollers, long afternoons in front of the ironing board in front of the soap operas while hubby was off busting heavies in the anonymous office; of joining the P.T.A. and then the country club when their income moved into five figures; of pills in circular yellow cases with out numbers to insure against having to move out of the misses’ sizes before it became absolutely necessary and against the intrusion of repulsive little strangers who shat in their pants and screamed for help at two in the morning; of fighting with desperate decorum to keep the niggers out of Kleen Korners, standing shoulder to shoulder with Terri Smith (Miss Potato Blossom of 1975) and Vicki Jones (Vice President of the Women’s league), armed with signs and petitions and sweet, slightly desperate smiles.

Issues with profanity, violence, underage sex, and negative views on religion, led to ‘Carrie’ getting banned in some parts of the United States. However, there’s little denying that the novel remains a classic whose themes are strikingly still relevant even in today’s world.

Cultural Context

‘Carrie’ is a novel that has made its mark on American culture as it has become an invisible standard for young adult issues. Stephen King used ‘Carrie’ to show how society views those it rejects.

‘Carrie’ impacted and shaped pop culture because of how relatable it is to young adults. Bullying is a social issue as old as human society itself, and portrayed it by using its main character in ‘Carrie’. Because of how relatable it was, most readers found the story of ‘Carrie’ more realistic than fictional. 

‘Carrie’ has also inspired works of cinematography and music. The music video for ‘Hell in the Hathaways’ got inspired by ‘Carrie.’ Over the years, many novels have shown a resemblance to ‘Carrie,’ showing the novel’s relevance in writing culture.

Adaptations for the Screen

‘Carrie’ has been adapted for the screen many times. The first adaptation of ‘Carrie’ got released in 1976. It featured Sissy Spacek as Carrie, Piper Laurie as Margaret, Amy Irving as Sue, Nancy Allen as Chris, and William Katt as Tommy. The film, directed by Brian De Palma, got praised by Stephen King because of its fantastic ending. The first adapted film of ‘Carrie’ featured a more interesting closure, as it ended with Carrie dying in her home from rocks raining on her house. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie got nominated for the Academy Awards for their roles in ‘Carrie.’

The sequel to ‘Carrie’ got released in 1999 and was called ‘The Rage: Carrie 2.’ The second movie explored an idea not present in the novel. It explored the idea that Carrie’s father, Ralph, had multiple affairs with different women, leading to another child with telekinetic powers.

An alternate ending for ‘Carrie’ came from the 2002 adaptation of the novel. In the film, Carrie survived her ordeal.

In 2013, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the rights to adapt ‘Carrie’ for the screen. The new version featured Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie, Julianne Moore as Margaret, Gabriella Wilde as Sue Snell, Portia Doubleday as Chris, and Ansel Elgort as Tommy. However, the film got criticized for omitting many parts from the novel.


Was the first ‘Carrie‘ movie good?

The 1976 adaptation of ‘Carrie’ was excellent as it drove many people to the novel itself. After the publication of ‘Carrie’ there was little traction as the novel never became a best seller. However, the movie brought the novel to light. Stephen King also admired the ending of the 1976 ‘Carrie,’ calling it better than his.

What first happened with ‘Carrie?’

After writing the first pages of ‘Carrie,’ Stephen King tossed it into the garbage bin as he felt disconnected from the protagonist. However, his wife picked it out and encouraged him to continue writing.

What did Carrie do at the school prom?

After getting humiliated by Chris, almost everyone started laughing at Carrie; this made her lose control, and she began killing them. Carrie exits the school and causes a massive explosion, killing most of her classmates.

What happened to Carrie’s dad?

Before she was born, Ralph White, Carrie’s father, died in an accident after a steel girder fell on him at work.

Joshua Ehiosun
About Joshua Ehiosun
Joshua is an undying lover of literary works. With a keen sense of humor and passion for coining vague ideas into state-of-the-art worded content, he ensures he puts everything he's got into making his work stand out. With his expertise in writing, Joshua works to scrutinize pieces of literature.
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