header logo

Carrie Summary


Here you will find a Carrie summary (Stephen King's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

P.S.: As an Amazon Associate, we earn money from purchases made through links in this page. But the summaries are totally free!

Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Carrie Summary Overview

Carrie White, a socially secluded high school senior, is tormented by her classmates, who ridicule her for her lack of awareness of her own menstruation. Following the incident, Carrie discovers she has telekinetic abilities, something her mother, Margaret, suspected and believed to be demonic. Margaret strictly monitors Carrie, fearing the manifestation of sin in her daughter, and goes as far as educating her about the supposed sinful nature of womanhood shortly after Carrie's first menstrual cycle. As punishment for their cruel behavior towards Carrie, her classmates are required to serve a week's detention or forfeit their tickets to the approaching Spring Ball. Yet, this punishment is not enough to deter Chris Hargensen, who seeks retaliation after losing her tickets. Sue Snell, who also participated in the taunting, feels guilty and persuades her boyfriend Tommy to invite Carrie to the prom as a form of apology. Sue decides to stay home during the event. Upon learning of Tommy's invitation, and Carrie's acceptance, Chris and her boyfriend devise a plot to embarrass Carrie. On the night of the prom, Margaret is repulsed by Carrie's chosen dress, resulting in a heated argument. However, Carrie uses her powers to keep her mother at a distance. The night takes a disastrous turn when Chris dupes the crowd into crowning Carrie and Tommy as prom royalty, only to drench them in pig’s blood. In her anger and humiliation, Carrie uses her powers to cause havoc in the gym, leading to the death of several students. As she escapes, she devastates the town's infrastructure. Upon returning home, Carrie finds her mother waiting for her, and after a deadly confrontation, the knife-wielding Margaret dies of a heart attack triggered by Carrie's telekinetic powers. Carrie also kills Chris and her boyfriend, who were attempting to escape the town. After these horrific events, Sue finds Carrie dying in the roadhouse parking lot. The two connect telepathically, and Sue stays by Carrie's side in her final moments.

section 1

In 1966, Margaret White and her daughter, Carrietta, experienced a bizarre stone rain, as reported in a short news bulletin. The widow, residing on Carlin Street in Chamberlain, Maine, remained silent on the episode. Fast forward to 1979, none of the Ewen High School students were aware that Carrie White possesses telekinesis (TK) - the ability to maneuver objects with her mind. Carrie, a plump, pale-faced girl with acne problems, had been the butt of the jokes since grade school. One Friday morning, after gym class, while the girls were changing, Carrie was still in the shower. Miss Desjardin, the gym teacher, snaps her out of her daze and reminds her to hurry up. The girls mock Carrie's weird response. Upon leaving the shower, blood from Carrie's period attracts everyone's attention. Chris Hargensen yells out "Per-iod!" and others join in the mockery. Sue Snell, despite her mixed feelings of hatred and sympathy, urges Carrie to clean herself up. Further humiliation ensues as Ruth Gogan insinuates that Carrie uses tampons as lipstick. Helen Shyres feigns disgust, and Sue labels Carrie as a "big dumb pudding", pointing out her bleeding state. Carrie reacts with a loud scream. The girls bombard her with tampons and sanitary pads, shouting to "plug it up". The commotion ceases as they watch her retreat, howling and groaning. Sue verbalizes her realization that this is Carrie's first period, despite being sixteen. In an academic article from 1981 titled The Shadow Exploded: Documented Facts and Specific Conclusions Derived from the Case of Carrietta White, it's noted that TK manifests during extreme personal stress. The article also mentions that the late onset and traumatic experiences of Carrie's menstrual cycle could have instigated her TK. It points out Carrie's lack of understanding about menstruation, citing an incident witnessed by Ruth Gogan. Apparently, Carrie had used a tampon to touch up her lipstick, thinking it was the right usage. When Ruth corrected her, Carrie believed it to be a joke, leading to her continued misunderstanding.

section 2

Miss Desjardin rushes into the locker room and in an effort to soothe a panicking Carrie, she slaps her, partly taking pleasure in the action. Carrie, terrified and unaware of menstruation, leaves a bloody mark on her teacher's white shorts. Realizing Carrie lacks the knowledge about periods, Miss Desjardin, a rookie teacher, educates her on sanitary napkins, feeling guilty about her initial reaction. Suddenly, a light bulb explodes above them. "The Shadow Exploded" outlines Carrie's birth in 1963, with her father Ralph, having died seven months earlier due to a construction mishap. The extreme piety of her parents had isolated them from the community. Carrie's birth was a traumatic event, her mother resorting to a butcher knife to sever the umbilical cord. Carrie's distress continues as Miss Desjardin takes her to Mr. Morton, the assistant principal, insisting she needs to go home. His repeated error in addressing her by the wrong name infuriates Carrie and in her rage, his ashtray crashes onto the floor. Carrie reveals her feelings of constant ridicule to them. Their conversation later revolves around the girls who tormented Carrie, with Chris being identified as the main instigator. They express surprise at Sue's participation and Miss Desjardin admits regret over her response to the situation. On her way home, Carrie ponders the relentless animosity she faces and remembers her mother's religious fervor. She recalls a bitter experience at a Christian camp and her mother's command to treasure the painful memories as a form of "scourging". A boy on a bike taunts her and simultaneously his bike topples, leading Carrie to believe she caused the accident. She contemplates about the gym light and Mr. Morton's ashtray, linking them to her newfound telekinetic abilities. As she nears her home, she's reminded of a past incident involving a rain of stones on her house. A 1980 magazine article recounts an interview with Estelle Horan, a former neighbor of the Whites. Recalling past incidents, Estelle mentions Margaret's critical outbursts regarding her sunbathing and an encounter with a young, pretty Carrie. Carrie's curiosity about Estelle's "dirtypillows" (breasts) and Margaret's bizarre reaction to it is highlighted. The strange occurrence of stones raining down on their house later that day is also mentioned.

section 3

When Carrie returns to her empty home, filled with religious artifacts, she's disturbed by her reflection as she changes out of her outdated clothing. The mirror she views herself in suddenly breaks. Meanwhile, Sue Snell and Tommy Ross, after two weeks of intimacy, engage in a heartfelt conversation questioning their popularity and past mistakes. They affirm their bond and Tommy asks Sue to accompany him to prom. Carrie's confrontation with her mother, Margaret, goes awry when she tries to discuss her period. Margaret reacts violently and religiously, forcing Carrie into a prayer session at a makeshift altar. After insulting her mother, Carrie is locked in a closet for seven hours. Later, they spend time together with hymns playing in the background, and Carrie works on a dress. She reflects on her mother's fear and her own experiences in the closet, before using her powers to operate the sewing machine and retiring for the night. Margaret's past is revealed in an excerpt from The Shadow Exploded. She grew up in a roadhouse near Chamberlain, losing her father to a shooting incident. After meeting Ralph White, she left her home, accusing her parents of adultery. Her mother suspected she miscarried a month after marrying Ralph, but was surprised when Margaret declared their marriage to be "sinless."

section 4

Carrie misses gym class and Miss Desjardin scolds the other girls, mainly targeting Chris. She confronts Chris about her cruel behavior towards Carrie, pushing her into a locker when she tries to bypass her. The girls are punished with a week's detention, with prom tickets forfeited if they miss a session. By Friday, Chris's father, lawyer John Hargensen, confronts the school principal, Henry Grayle. He threatens to sue unless his daughter's prom tickets are restored and Miss Desjardin is sacked. However, Grayle defends his actions by recounting Chris's abuses against Carrie and her history of infractions. He counters Hargensen's threat with a promise to charge Chris with abuse if taken to court. Sue encounters Chris with Billy Nolan at the soda fountain on Monday. Chris reveals her ban from prom and blames Carrie for it, sparking a confrontation with Sue. Sue later reflects on her own actions, feeling like a hypocrite for attending detention just to secure her prom attendance. On May 17, Carrie visualizes vanquishing her tormentors and practices her telekinetic powers, exhausting herself. She dreams of stones raining down on her oppressors, including her own mother. In an extract from her autobiography, Sue notes that in 1979, they were all just children. She recalls how teenage responses can be socially acceptable yet misguided. She emphasizes this, mindful of the horrific destruction and death toll, and mentions the White Commission's disbelief of her account.

section 5

Sue convinces her boyfriend Tommy to take Carrie to prom, hoping this will help her overcome her introverted nature and also make up for past cruelties. In response to Tommy's skepticism, Sue remarks that age doesn't necessarily bring empathy; people might just get better at being unkind. Tommy, though somewhat anxious, asks Carrie to prom during study hall. He realizes she isn't as unattractive as he assumed and notices her attractiveness. Despite her reservations about being tricked, Carrie accepts his invitation, anticipating it to be a "nightmare." An analysis from The Shadow Exploded explores Tommy's part in the Chamberlain disaster, questioning his knowledge and involvement in the tragic event. It also disputes Sue's explanation that the invitation was a means of making amends. Critics argue that adolescents rarely feel the need for atonement. The document refutes the stereotype of Tommy being a 'dumb jock,' highlighting his academic achievements, social awareness, and independence from his peers. It also mentions that twelve people survived the prom event. Instead of her usual shopping spot, Woolworth's, Carrie decides to buy her prom dress fabric from an upscale store. She feels a thrill of power knowing she could destroy the shop and its customers. Back home, she practices her abilities, reflecting on childhood memories, including earlier instances of using her power, a hailstorm of stones, and her mother threatening her with a butcher knife. Carrie informs her mother Margaret about her date to prom with Tommy, resulting in Margaret throwing tea at Carrie and trying to physically force her into the closet. Margaret rants about men's lustful nature and liquor-fueled debauchery. When Margaret attempts to hit her, Carrie halts her hand mid-air and hurls a teacup against the wall, declaring that she will go to prom. She calmly states that she doesn't want to fight but insists on leading her own life. Later, alone, Carrie contemplates her actions, deciding they're better than being locked in the closet. She also reflects on Tommy's invitation, believing it to be an act of amends for past wrongs. Carrie wonders whether her powers are a blessing or a curse, but she ultimately doesn't care.

section 6

On a Monday, Principal Gayle and Mr. Morton discuss Tommy's unexpected invitation to Carrie for the prom. They suspect Sue’s involvement and worry about Chris's potential actions, now that her father is no longer seeking legal actions against them. An article from The Shadow Exploded likens the gene for TK to the recessive gene causing hemophilia, a disorder that predominantly affects males. However, TK essentially presents in females. If Carrie were a male, she would carry the gene without manifesting TK abilities. The article describes a female with the TK gene as a potential agent of large-scale chaos, like Typhoid Mary. By Wednesday afternoon, the prom decoration committee is in action. During a chat with Helen Shyre, Sue confirms her intention to make up for her past actions by having Tommy ask Carrie to prom. This leaves Helen wondering about the impact on the rest of the group. Sue fears being perceived as arrogant, a feeling Helen confirms, especially from Chris and her “scuzzy” boyfriend Billy. Sue realizes that she will no longer be the popular girl as she has shown her true colors. In her autobiography, Sue labels Billy's friends as petty criminals with low intelligence. She understands Billy siding with Chris but cannot comprehend Chris's motives. She concludes that Chris’s only goal was to wreak havoc on Carrie's life. Elsewhere in the gym, Chris manipulates Tina Black to sneak a peek at the prom seating plan. She is infuriated to find Tommy and Carrie listed together. Seeing their names on the prom King and Queen ballots makes her laugh. When Tina returns and alerts her about Norma Watson's approach, Chris leaves the gym to call Billy. Billy rushes towards Henty’s farm with his friends in his dilapidated car. His friends think they are planning a prank on old man Henty, but Billy sees it as an act for Chris. At the farm, they equip themselves with an ice chest, two steel buckets, a sledgehammer, and a butcher knife. They head to the pigpen, where Billy kills a sow and its blood fills the buckets. Killing another sow, Billy smiles thinking of Chris’s words: pig blood for a pig.

section 7

On prom morning, Carrie dons her new dress and push-up bra, feeling a mix of thrill and embarrassment. Her mother, Margaret, barges in, criticizing Carrie's appearance and demanding they burn the dress. In response, Carrie stands up to her mother who responds by self-harming. However, Carrie remains firm, even telekinetically forcing Margaret out of her room. By evening, as she awaits her date Tommy's arrival, her mother has secluded herself in their chapel. Doubt fills Carrie's mind; is this all a prank? She daydreams about post-high school life with her mother and uses her telekinetic power to play with household objects. At exactly 7:33 p.m., she fantasizes about demolishing her house, only to be interrupted by Tommy's arrival, who compliments her beauty. Meanwhile, Chris and Billy rendezvous above The Cavalier, a local tavern. Chris reflects on their volatile relationship, wondering if their prank plan is a mistake, but Billy reassures her. At the school, Tommy comforts a nervous Carrie, comparing her to the unrecognized beauty Galatea from Greek mythology. They encounter friends George, Frieda, Tina, and Norma, with the latter expressing surprise at Carrie's fashion skills. The couple joins the others in the gym, leaving a trail of pleasant conversation behind. As Chris and Billy reach school, Billy gives Chris the responsibility of pulling the prank's trigger. He reminisces about setting up the prank, strangely content with the idea of Chris being its victim. At their table, Norma praises Carrie's transformation. In response to Norma's query about her secret, Carrie humorously claims to be in a secret relationship with Don McLean, a famous musician. Reveling in Norma's reaction, Carrie savors the experience of being in on the joke. Back home, Margaret roams the quiet house, her mind focused on her grandmother who also exhibited the 'Devil’s Power.' She recalls a moment from Carrie's infancy, when the sight of her levitating a bottle had almost driven her to kill Carrie. Now, she retrieves a butcher knife, beginning to sharpen it ominously. At the prom, while Tommy fetches punch, Carrie interacts with Miss Desjardin, her teacher. Their conversation consists of compliments and veiled apologies revolving around a past incident. Carrie doesn’t forget but declares it over. Elsewhere, Sue Snell spends her evening alone, anxiously noting her overdue period. Simultaneously, Chris and Billy reach the school, with Billy briefing Chris on their escape plan post-prank.

section 8

During the prom, Vic Mooney, the senior class president, starts the voting for Prom King and Queen. Carrie and Tommy are among the nominees. Despite Carrie's discomfort, Tommy encourages her to embrace the opportunity. They end up in a tie with another couple, leading to a run-off. During this time, Carrie feels a sense of dread, despite Tommy voting for them again. At the same moment, her mother, Margaret, accidentally cuts herself at home. Tommy and Carrie eventually win by a single vote. They are ushered on stage amidst applause, with no signs of mockery. Tommy realizes he has feelings for both Sue and Carrie. Meanwhile, outside, Chris and Billy get ready to execute their cruel plan as the school song plays. Overwhelmed with nervousness, Chris pulls the trigger. In a recollection from a piece named We Survived the Black Prom, Norma Watson details the chaos that ensued. The joy of Carrie's win quickly turns into a horrific scene as laughter fills the room while blood pours down on her. Carrie flees from the stage amidst the laughter, managing to escape the gym despite being tripped. As the doors close behind her, a dangerous stampede follows. Those who manage to find the fire exits are the only ones to survive. The horrifying scene includes Josie Vreck, a band member, being electrocuted while Norma and Tina rush to escape through the fire doors.

section 9

Late at night, Sue drives to the foot of a hill as the school behind her explodes. She hits her head on the wheel but manages to exit the car before collapsing. Unknown to Sue, her boyfriend Tommy Ross is already dead. Thomas Quillan, a local drunk, provides his perspective from the police station. He spots Carrie near a fire hydrant that suddenly erupts, and watches her stride towards the town center with a chilling grin. He feels an inexplicable certainty that she intends to punish the town. He observes the gas station pumps off their hooks, and a passing man casually tosses a lit cigarette. The narrative revisits Carrie’s experiences as chaos erupts at the school. She senses Tommy's distress before grasping the situation, and the laughter of her peers fuels her anger and confirms her mother's warnings. Ignoring the fake sympathy on her teacher's face, she exits the school, briefly debating going home. However, her fury dictates her actions and she decides to retaliate. She uses her mind to seal the school's lobby doors, relishing in the screams of her classmates. She observes the comical spectacle of a student being electrocuted and decides to sabotage the town's fire hydrants to prevent her fires from being extinguished. Sheriff Otis Doyle recounts that less than forty minutes passes between the first trouble reports at the school and the ensuing explosion. Sue flags him down, asking about Tommy's fate and Carrie's whereabouts. A battered Vic Mooney informs the sheriff that Carrie instigated the chaos after being doused with blood. Later, Carrie is found praying in a church, her unanswered prayers driving her to return home. On her way, she unleashes live power cables amongst the wandering townsfolk. Cora Simard, another student's mother, testifies about encountering Carrie exiting the church. She and Georgette, Helen's mother, are heading to the school to find their daughters. She blames Carrie for the chaos but can't explain why. They carefully avoid fallen power cables, but Georgette stumbles onto a live wire, leading to a disturbing description of her burning. Back home, Carrie's mother, Margaret, waits with a butcher knife. As Carrie enters, drenched in blood, Margaret starts reminiscing about her past with Ralph, her husband. She regrets not ending her life after their premarital intimacy, which led to a miscarriage she believed cleansed her of sin. Following Ralph's violent return and forced intimacy, she threw him out. Carrie pleads for her mother to stop, but Margaret insists, confessing the pleasure she derived from the act and her subsequent suicidal thoughts. She reveals that she planned to murder Carrie at birth. In a twisted turn of events, Carrie returns home with intentions to kill Margaret, only to find Margaret waiting to kill her. A desperate plea for help ends with Margaret stabbing Carrie in the shoulder. Carrie uses her powers to slow her mother's heartbeat until she dies. At 1:15 a.m., Carrie, with the knife still embedded in her shoulder, stumbles away from her home.

section 10

Billy violently assaults Chris, tearing her shirt and striking her. Following a heated argument, Chris is left unconscious, only to be awakened by Jackie Talbot's frantic knocking. The town is ablaze, and Jackie fears their fingerprints on the buckets at Henty's farm will implicate them in the chaos. Billy dismissively sends him away. Chris raises concerns about Carrie, earning another slap from Billy. They resolve to watch the burning town, then claim to their parents they've been out drinking. Billy and Chris are shocked to find Carrie in the path of their car. Panicked, Billy crashes into The Cavalier's wall, causing a fiery explosion. Injured but alive, Carrie drags herself across the parking lot, grappling with the pain and her mother's expectations of her. After leaving Sheriff Doyle, Sue witnesses the burning sky and deduces the tragic connection between Tommy's death and Carrie. She surmises that Carrie has killed her mother. Following a trail of blood, Sue treks three miles to The Cavalier, seemingly tuned into Carrie’s thoughts. An excerpt from The Shadow Exploded debates the morality of identifying and potentially isolating the 'TK gene'. It concludes that the sole solution to prevent mass destruction is to eliminate the individual bearing the gene. Sue finds Carrie in the parking lot, initially thinking she's dead. Upon finding Carrie's thoughts still present in her mind, Sue realizes she's unconscious. In a strange twist, Sue communicates telepathically with Carrie, who is suspicious of Sue's intentions. Sue invites Carrie into her mind, allowing her to see her genuine emotions - but no malice towards Carrie. Feeling Carrie’s intense pain, Sue attempts to mentally distance herself. In a sea of darkness, she senses a fading flame and realizes Carrie is dying. Carrie's final thought is an apology to her mother. Sue flees the horrific scene. Suddenly, she's overcome by an intense physical sensation, and blood begins flowing down her thighs. She releases a guttural scream in a field, alone.

section 11

Section 11 begins with a replica of Carrie's death certificate, showing she was confirmed dead upon reaching the hospital around 2 a.m. It was Susan Snell who confirmed her identity and the state of Maine took possession of her remains. A news report from June 5, 1979, discloses the death toll of 409 with another 49 unaccounted for in Chamberlain. It also mentions an ongoing investigation into Carrie White and the “so-called ‘TK’ phenomena.” Allegations regarding her post-mortem are also brought up, and the governor announces a committee to probe into the disaster. The subsequent article, dated September 7, 1979, brings attention to the numerous houses now on sale in Chamberlain. The town mill runs one shift due to worker scarcity, while the Kelly Fruit Company, which was ruined on the prom night, remains closed. The casualty count has risen to 440, 67 of them being Ewen High School seniors who were laid to rest in mass funerals. A public memorial commemorating all victims was attended by thousands, but only 52 seniors showed up for graduation at another high school and no celebrations followed. The journalist portrays a town on the verge of collapse. The school principal, Grayle, resigns on June 9. An extract from Miss Desjardin’s resignation letter of June 11 reveals her despair, saying she'd rather die than continue teaching and confesses her regret for not supporting Carrie more. The former site of the Whites’ home is marked with graffiti claiming Carrie's eternal damnation for her transgressions. In 1981, a scientific journal article argues that while politicians are inclined to dismiss TK as a one-time event, there's a 99% chance of it occurring genetically. Sue, in her memoirs, expresses hope for the book’s success to afford a new life elsewhere. The governor’s committee, however, sees no likelihood of a repetition. Years later, in 1988, a woman in Tennessee writes a letter to her sister about her two-year-old daughter, a blonde, blue-eyed girl who resembles their mother. The toddler was seen laughing while playing with self-moving marbles, which frightens her mother and reminds her of their grandmother who could mysteriously move her rocking chair. She optimistically predicts her daughter's bright future.

Enjoying this summary?
Buy the book! (it's better)

Lists that recommended Carrie