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Literature / Rage

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Rage is a novel written by Stephen King, and his first release under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.

A disturbed high schooler, after being expelled, shoots his teacher and takes the rest of his class hostage. A show-and-tell session with an unexpected flavor of The Breakfast Club ensues.

Stephen King requested the novel to be pulled out of circulation after its connection to several similar school shooting incidents possibly inspired by it.

The novel provides examples of:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Mentioned by Charlie. He thinks Ted's handsome face is the one Irma must call up at such times.
  • Adults Are Useless: The source of a lot of the drama. No one seems to know how to deal with Charlie's increasingly erratic behaviour, and they don't even expel him after he assaults a teacher.
  • Arc Words: "Getting it on." Also the original title of the book.
  • Axes at School: Even before he decides to shoot up the classroom, Charlie has been carrying a wrench in his back pocket.
  • Break the Haughty: Charlie manages to do a real number on the pompous school counselor who tries to negotiate with him over the classroom intercom- he threatens to shoot a hostage if the man asks him any questions, finally gets him to slip up and fires a shot into the floor.
    • What the classmates do to Ted in the end.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early in the book Charlie places a padlock in his shirt pocket. It's what saves his life when he's shot by a SWAT team sniper.
  • Darker and Edgier: Decades later, it's still one of King's bleakest works.
  • Facial Horror:
    • The Cherokee Nose Job, as told by Charlie's dad; if a woman is unfaithful, then the response is to cut her nose in half (representing her "cunt") to let everyone know of her indiscretion.
    • Early in the book, Charlie looks in the mirror and sees a nightmare version of his face.
  • Force Feeding: a classmate shoves paper down Ted's throat during the mobbing, Ted tries to spit it out, but another classmate forces it back in. Thankfully, Charlie removes it later.
  • Foreshadowing: In the first chapter, Charlie has a vision of his teacher telling him he belongs in a mental hospital. By the end of the book, he is.
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  • Hero Antagonist: Ted, despite being a jerkass, is trying to rally the class against someone who just killed two innocent people and is effectively holding them hostage.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: Charlie is forced to go on one with his father and some of his friends. There he learns about the Cherokee Nose Job.
  • Karma Houdini: Presumably, the rest of the class who went along with Charlie and ultimately drove Ted insane (he dies in the original manuscript to make matters worse), although see below under Noodle Incident.
  • Lying Finger Cross: Charlie does this at one point to reassure his quasi-hostages while toying with the authorities over the intercom.
  • My Beloved Smother: Pig Pen's mother constantly undermines his attempts at living an even halfway normal life, including preventing him from having a car because he might use it to have sex with a girl.
  • Noodle Incident: A few things happen to some of the class in the epilogue, but these events are censored in the letter to Charlie.
  • Oedipus Complex: Charlie has a dream about his father killing his mother after giving her a Cherokee Nose Job and wakes up with an erection.
  • Only Sane Man: Ted towards the end. His status doesn't last. It really doesn't. Especially in the original manuscript, because instead of being sent to receive therapy, he dies.
  • Panty Shot: Once, Charlie took Sandra Cross to a dance and she lost the top button on her Wranglers, exposing the "flat white V" of her panties.
  • The Pig-Pen: Pig Pen, as you might guess, is a grubby mess.
  • Pocket Protector: Charlie's padlock.
  • Shout-Out: "Hot Stuff" by The Rolling Stones, from Black and Blue is playing at a party.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Ted tries to do this to Charlie to get the rest of the class on his side. It doesn't work.
  • Slut-Shaming: Discussed. "You're either all brain or all cunt." "My mother's a slut, and I love her."
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Many of the students find themselves sympathizing with and expressing approval towards Charlie.
  • Stunned Silence: All the students sit and stare after Charlie shoots his math teacher.
  • Suicide by Cop: Charlie tries this at the end, grabbing for a nonexistent gun. He gets shot multiple times, but survives.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Joe McKennedy's letter to Charlie.


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