While Carrie is the sixth novel Stephen King wrote, it is his first to be published. King had wanted to write a story using telekinesis as a premise ever since high school, when he read an article that speculated that poltergeist phenomena were really caused by the unconscious telekinetic powers of children. Telekinesis places Carrie into the science fiction branch of horror fiction, especially since the novel is several years in the future.
King also had wanted to write stories about two girls he knew in elementary and high school. The first girl was overweight and quiet, and wore the same clothes to school every day. After wearing a new set of clothes one day, she was hazed by other students so fiercely that she was driven to tears. As an adult, she committed suicide by hanging herself. The other girl King knew had lived alone with her mother, like Carrie in the novel. This girl had suffered from epilepsy and wore modest, old-fashioned clothes. She also died after graduating from high school, although by an epileptic seizure, not suicide. As a youth, King had been hired by this second girl’s family to move some furniture. He observed a giant crucifix hanging over the couch, large enough to kill someone if it ever fell down. In Carrie, King places a similar crucifix in Carrie’s home. King combined the girls’ stories in developing Carrie.
To give the story an air of authenticity and to lengthen what was originally a twenty-five-thousand-word novella to the size of a novel, King had inserted a series of newspaper and magazine articles, book excerpts, official documents, and eyewitness testimonies into the narrative so that the plot device of telekinesis could be presented matter-of-factly and with a...
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