Critical Context

Carrie places Stephen King in good company with other authors who have attempted to depict the psychological and emotional traumas of growing up. As in such novels as Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963) and J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1945), Carrie deglamorizes the maturation process. In addition, Carrie, King’s first published novel, paved the way for such later works as The Shining (1977), “The Body” (1982), The Dead Zone (1979), and Dolores Claiborne (1993), all of which investigate the psychology of those individuals who are kept outside the traditional socialization process. Like many of King’s later works, Carrie couches its psychological foundations in supernatural events to give the narrative added suspense and excitement.

Carrie brought King to the forefront of popular horror fiction. Like other writers in the genre, King attempts to show the extent to which people may go to confront or escape their fears and concerns. The horror that King depicts is not necessarily the horror of monsters confronting one from without; rather, he shows that the monsters that confront one from within create the most lasting results in the individual’s psychological growth.