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Some powerful females February 25, 2007

Posted by erinsull in Carrie.
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I’ve been thinking alot about the male roles in Carrie. Females are obviously the focus of the movie. They are the ones with the power and the agency, the ones who are making the decisions that drive the action. However most of the time they are using the power in destructive ways. The men for the most part are not particularly powerful, but that also means they are for the most part not responsible for the evil and destruction the movie culminates in. Yes the John Travolta character helps with the prank, but he is essentially the dumb pawn of his vicious girlfriend (who is so driven by hatred she talks about Carrie during sex). Yes Tommy brings Carrie to the prom, but he only does so because Sue wants him to. On the other hand the evil perpetuated by the girls, Carrie’s mother, and eventually Carrie herself are entirely of their own volition. So although we are seeing females in control, we only really see them use that control to do terrible things. The female characters who aren’t doing terrible things(Miss Collins, Carrie in the beginning) don’t have much control over what is going on. So are we supposed to take away that with power comes evil? And is it enpowering that women are in control here with men merely acting as pawns, or does the fact that it results in death and destruction negate that?

Which brings me to the character of Sue. I was confused about her all during the movie and honestly still haven’t figured out what she is supposed to represent. So in my frustration I turned to rottentomatoes.com to see what other people had to say. There isn’t many reviews on Carrie but I found a Roger Ebert one that directly referenced Sue. Ebert sees Sue as totally complicit in the plot against Carrie. This suprised me because I was under the impression that Sue was suprised by what happaned to Carrie. But it got me thinking if that was the case why did she go to the prom at the exact time? If it wasn’t because she knew what was going to happen then what was the point of her being there? Was it to show that all female characters didn’t have that capacity for evil? I don’t think i buy that, I think there is something more there, I just don’t know what it is quite yet. So basically I have few answers and a lot of questions when it comes to Sue.

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1. lindamc - February 26, 2007

Sue is a really interesting and odd character for sure. I personally buy that she feels badly for Carrie and so offers her date to her in order to make her feel better, but I’m not really sure why I feel this way. The fact that she comes to the prom at all is a little strange. Are we supposed to believe that she wanted to come just to see Carrie in her moment of triumph and happiness? Is that why she bolts up from the table to say she “has to go out?” I think not. I believe that she was not in on the prank, but had been told to come and see something happen by her group of friends. If this is the case, than I believe she is meant to be a character for us to identify with: a witness (as professor Parham made mention of last class). She is supposed to be the only character (female or male) that we can really find ourselves as the viewer in. Carrie, although sweet and someone we in sections want to support, is clearly too dark, too full of destruction, and too separated from society for us to understand. Miss Collins is also too odd: she supports Carrie, but also admits to finding her annoying. None of the male characters are strong enough to be followed. All the other girls are too mean and vicious for us to want to identify with, but Sue changes over the course of the film. We can see how in the beginning she makes fun of Carrie, calling her names like all the other girls. We’re supposed to say, yeah we were in high school once too. But as we watch we’re also supposed to know more than these girls and realize, like Sue does, that being mean to Carrie is really harsh and unnecessary. Sue, I truly believe, wants carry to be happy, as we as an audience are encouraged to do too. By going to the prom late and in street clothes, we can identify more easily with Sue at the prom as well. She is there to witness Carrie’s success, and like us, has no idea of the mess that is about to ensue. At the end of the film, the viewer’s relationship with Carrie is expressed through Sue’s final dream sequence. She is trying to morn the sweet girl who we feel sorry for throughout the movie, even when she is murdering many people. However, we are appalled and frightened by her at the same time, just like Sue is when Carrie’s hand shoots out from the soil. When Sue wakes up, we realize that she must be the only character we saw still alive, and the one who went through the whole movie feeling as we were supposed to feel: empathetic toward Carrie, but extremely disgusted and terrified of her weird powers and reactions to life.

2. robynbahr - March 1, 2007

“So are we supposed to take away that with power comes evil?”

I think it’s presumptuous to label all the female power in the film as necessarily “evil”. To me, evil is a strong idea that I’m not sure actually exists. Is anything purely evil? Wikipedia partially defines evil as “Perhaps best represented in the human situation in the form of unprovoked hatred against and coupled with an aggressive impulse to cause harm to another person or group (ie. sadism).”

Were Chris’ actions unprovoked? You have to remember that, despite the fact that we come to identify with Carrie, she is creepy and strange. Having someone screaming and run up to you with mentral blood, despite her naivty, isn’t exactly unprovoking. I don’t think Chris evil. I don’t think Mrs. White is evil either because she is obviously mentally ill and in need of help. And I CERTAINLY don’t think Carrie is evil. Her actions at the end of the film are regrettable, but not unprovoked. These were the same people who ridiculed her before her transformation and not totally innocent by any means.

3. robynbahr - March 1, 2007

[Excuse the spelling errors – I accidentally pressed SAY IT before I could proofread.]


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