Carrie White (Movie) Character in “Carrie”

This post includes a character analysis of Carrie White, the protagonist of the 1976 film “Carrie”.

Directed by Brian de Palma, the 1976 horror film stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White.

Carrie (1976)

In Carrie (1976), Carrie White is a shy high school girl who lives with her abusive and religious mother (Margaret). She struggles at school, as her classmates often bully her. Then, one day, Carrie discovers something about herself: she has telekinetic powers.

Meanwhile, a boy named Tommy asks Carrie to the prom. When the day comes, Carrie and Tommy win the titles of “Prom Queen” and “Prom King”, respectively. However, it was all a set-up to dump a bucket of pig’s blood on Carrie’s head and humiliate her.

While covered in blood, Carrie snaps and unleashes her powers, killing most of the people on the premises. Then Carrie goes home and confronts her mother, who tries to stab her. In self-defence, Carrie kills Margaret. In the process, a fire started inside their home. Mother and daughter die as the house collapses.

The only survivor of the prom massacre is Sue. She was the only classmate who felt sorry for Carrie and asked Tommy to take her to the prom. In a dream, Sue visits Carrie’s grave, and suddenly she feels the dead girl’s hand grabbing her arm. The nightmare makes Sue wake up screaming in terror.

Note: For those who are interested, here is another article discussing the meaning behind the ending of Carrie (1976).

Carrie White Character Analysis in Carrie (1976)

Carrie (1976) presents Carrie White as a sheltered high school outcast who has trouble fitting in among her classmates. Unlike her peers, Carrie’s freedom is rather limited due to the influence of her strict mother. Nonetheless, Carrie’s self-esteem grows when she finds out about her ability to move objects with her mind.

In terms of personality, Carrie White is introverted and socially awkward. However, the girl has a kind-hearted nature. In the beginning, she had no intent to use her telekinetic powers to harm others. However, everything changed after the vicious prank that her bullies pulled on her during prom night. All Carrie longed for was some acceptance and love from her mother and peers. Instead, all she ever met was cruelty, pain and fear.

Carrie White After the Prom Incident

After the prom incident, Carrie’s personality changes drastically. Seeing the pig’s blood all over her body sent Carrie to the edge. She lost it and had a mental breakdown. The humiliation and betrayal incite strong feelings of anger inside Carrie. As a result, she lost control of her emotions and unleashed her fury on her tormentors.

In the process, Carrie White ended up killing her bullies and all the other people in the premise. After killing all those people at the prom, Carrie would eventually meet her end too. The girl spent her last moments holding on to her dead mother while their house collapsed. However, the real tragedy is not Carrie’s death, but her legacy. People won’t remember Carrie as the shy and kind girl, but as the “monster” who killed many.

Is Carrie White a Villain or a Hero?

Here’s another big question: is Carrie White a villain or a hero? Some might say that Carrie killed innocent people during that fateful night, which might make her look like a villain. While others will hail her as a hero who stood up against her bullies and gave them what they deserved. So, which one is she? Personally, I believe she’s neither. In this story, Carrie White is a victim.

Carrie White didn’t snap out of nowhere. Her classmates have been mean to her for a while, and the environment at home wasn’t the best. Now, does that mean that Carrie’s classmates and Margaret deserved to die? Killing the abusers might not always be the best answer, but in certain cases, it might be the only way to make them stop. Carrie White did not kill for pleasure, she did it to survive.

Having said that, Carrie’s classmates should’ve been more mindful of their actions. After all, Carrie White is a person just like them. She’s a little more closed off than her peers, but she has the right to be that way, and no one should be bothering her for that. Losing their own lives was perhaps the hardest lesson that they had to learn from their actions.

As for the woman who hides behind religion, Margaret is actually the greatest sinner in this story: she failed deeply as a parent. When Carrie needed her mother the most, the woman just stabbed her own daughter in the back (literally). What kind of parent does that to her own child?

Some might use mental illness as an excuse for Margaret’s awful actions, but having mental issues is not a good enough reason to be cruel. Sadly, abusers tend to use these types of tactics on their victims: they create their own personal narratives to justify their horrible behaviours and actions.

Final Thoughts

Carrie White and her story serve as a cautionary tale about bullying and its devastating consequences. Sometimes, treating people poorly might lead them to become monsters too. In Carrie’s case, she was just an innocent girl trying to live her life. But the constant abuse from her mother and classmates turned her into someone else.

Some might label Carrie White as a vengeful character, but is she though? Is fighting back against the tormentors or standing up for oneself an act of revenge? Maybe the bullies should’ve thought about the consequences of their actions. It’s very easy to point fingers at their executioner for what happened next. But in reality, the tormentors played a huge role in the events that eventually led to their demise.

On a final note, Carrie White’s tragic ending could’ve been prevented had people shown more compassion and kindness towards her. Starting with her mother. Margaret is the first perpetrator, she is Carrie’s mother, but she never acted like one. Then, in second place, come the classmates. Not everyone in the class was actively bullying Carrie, but being a bystander is not a good thing either. Last but not least, the educators at the school could’ve done better.