It’s by jumping into the adults’ perspective that King blames Carrie’s mistreatment not just on a few bad students, but on the adults in their lives who fail to intervene adequately. Miss Desjardin and Principal Morton both realize they failed Carrie early in the novel and try to make things better, but it turns out it’s too little too late.
One subplot in particular that appears to be directly inspired by King’s career as a high school teacher is the conflict between school bully father Christine “Chris” Hargensen (played by Nancy Allen in the 1976 adaptation) and Principal Morton. After Chris is banned from attending the prom as punishment for his treatment of Carrie, she asks her father to come in and threaten Principal Morton to lift the punishment. Her father is a lawyer who repeatedly comes to school to get his daughter out of trouble, much to Morton’s frustration.
Most teachers are happy to say how often they have to deal with “my child would never do” parents, and would immediately recognize Mr. Hargensen as one of them. As a result, the scene where Morton finally pushes back is one of the most cathartic in the book. “I doubt very much that you know the girl depicted in these cards half as well as you think,” Morton told him. “If you did, you might realize it was time to go to the stake.” It’s a scene that serves a clear plot purpose – now that Chris can’t ask his father to punish her, she’s more motivated than ever to exact revenge on Carrie – but it also feels personal for the author. . During his teaching years, King probably had a lot of bullies like Chris Hargensen in his classrooms and probably met a lot of parents of those kids. It’s one of the few moments in the book where someone actually stands up for Carrie, and she never finds out.