Carrie’s response to Bullying

It’s difficult to watch on television the numerous commercials for the upcoming movie or re-make of Stephen King’s Carrie.  Being old enough to have seen the original movie, and having read the book more than once, I’m truly looking forward to seeing how they bring this movie back to life for the new millennium.  But it’s always a good to start with the source, the book, published in 1974, was Stephen King’s first published novel, and set him apart as an author to be reckoned with.

Carrie is a book written in multiple voices, including that of reports on the “White Affair.”  It’s treated as an academic inquiry, as well as first person reports on what happend to and because of Carrietta White.

Raised by religious fanatic mother,and treated with disdain by her fellows, Carrie could be placed in any school today and be treated in exactly the same way.  Bullies are present in every day life, and responses to bullying include actions similar in spirit, if not in extent to those taken by Carrie.

Just recently, there was a school shooting in the US, where a bullied student took a gun into the school and shot a teacher and attempted to shoot other students.  The final outcome was withheld for a while, but it turns out that the student turned the gun on himself at the end.

In cases across North America, bullied children, tweens, teens and adults are taking actions similar to those taken by Carrie White.  Attacking bullies, and eventually taking their own lives.  This story reverberates, and with the articles written about it (within the story itself), it’s treated much the same way as is by the media in modern times.

Bullying hasn’t changed over the years, but the response has, it’s far easier now to use weapons to attack others, and yourself, than it was in the past, in the case of Carrie, she was her own weapon and she acted out much in the same way as a bullied teen might today.

Hopefully the lesson is learned, as it was learned by Sue Snell in the story, and people realize the impact of their actions, and parents see the actions their children are taking, and move to help, both the parents of the bullied and bullies. The children are our responsibility, and teaching them how to behave, act and care for each other is our duty.  It’s also our duty to see that they don’t have access to those tools that cause harm.

Finally, a book worth writing about!

I’ve just finished reading  “The Penal Colony,” and I have to say that this is a really good book, which takes a look inside the human spirit.  It’s not about good guys, it’s about bad guys.  There are those bad guys who do things for reasons beyond comprehension, and are sentenced to the worst possible punishment.  This is a book about them.  But it’s also a book about people who find themselves in an impossible situation, and take the only way out that they know how to.  Those folks who are pushed up against the wall, and take matters into their hands, which should best be left in the hands of others.

“The Penal Colony” is primarily a book about what you can do when pushed hard and far enough.  There are 3 or 4 main characters, and 2 real opposing forces.  The “hero” of this story is one of those who claims his innocence, but still manages to take actions that would be considered wrong, or even evil, on the “outside” of the penal colony.

Feeling for Routledge is natural, and acceptable, he’s our hero who is imprisoned for a murder he claims he never committed.  It’s easy to sympathize with him, with his confusion and finally acceptance of his situation.  It’s also understandable when he takes those actions that would put him in a similar situation, had they happened on the outside.  He’s a likable fellow.

At the beginning of the story, he finds himself introduced to the “civilized” portion of the island,but is told he must first understand what is outside, and is thrust among the outsiders for a probation period where he must survive against the elements, as well as the others who have not been accepted into the village.  On the outside he meets up with elements of the “others” those who will not live in a society, except for that of a fellowship of thieves and murderers.  Routledge sees how this group behaves first hand when he is accosted by two of their number on his second morning of imprisonment.  Finding what he thought was a safe hiding spot, they come upon him, and he takes decisive action to protect himself.  Afterwards he comes to understand that the outsiders are aware of the new recruit and have been looking for him, and eventually they catch him.  He sees how this type of society behaves and is soon looking for a way to escape.  Because his captors are also involved in trying to gain more for themselves, he finds his way out and to a more secure location.  He defends this location effectively before he is able to rejoin the village.

In the village, he can resume a somewhat normal lifestyle, while those on the outside try to destroy the village.  It appears that this is because of their having so little, while the village has so much.  Something we all have to deal with at one point or another.  Can we live with what we have, or must we find a way to better ourselves?  There are those that will bring down those around himself, rather than improve his own lot.  This is what happens in the colony, the have-nots want what they don’t have, and will do anything to get it.

In the end we come to know also that this penal colony is illegal, according to international law, and it is because of this, and a general desire for freedom, that a group of villagers tries to escape.

The fight between the haves and have-nots becomes one of success or failure of the escape plan, and anything can happen.  In the end, Routledge is one of the haves, and he continues to have to protect this against those others.

A truly good read, I look forward to reading more from Richard Herley.  For those who are interested, the book was the basis of a movie starring Ray Liotta.  From what I can tell, the book and movie are quite different though, so approach with caution.