by Stephen King

In the Maine town of Chamberlain, Carietta "Carrie" White is a 16-year-old girl who is a target of ridicule for her frumpy appearance and unusual religious beliefs, instilled by her despotic mother, Margaret. One day, Carrie has her first period while showering after a physical education class; the terrified Carrie has no understanding of menstruation as her mother, who despises everything related to intimacy, never told her about it. Carrie's classmates, led by a wealthy, popular girl named Chris Hargensen, throw tampons and sanitary napkins at her. The gym teacher, Rita Desjardin, helps her clean up and tries to explain. On the way home, Carrie develops an unusual ability to control objects from a distance. Margaret furiously accuses Carrie of sin and locks her in a closet so that she may pray.

The next day, Desjardin reprimands the girls who bullied Carrie and punishes them with a week's detention, with the penalty for skipping being suspension and exclusion from the prom; this punishment is given to Chris when she defiantly leaves. After an unsuccessful bid to get her privileges reinstated through her influential father, Chris decides to exact revenge on Carrie. Sue Snell, another popular girl, feels shame for her previous behavior and convinces her boyfriend, Tommy Ross, to invite Carrie to the prom instead. Carrie is suspicious, but accepts his offer, and begins sewing herself a prom dress. Meanwhile, Chris persuades her boyfriend Billy Nolan and his friends to gather two buckets of pig blood as she prepares a measure to rig the prom queen election in Carrie's favor.

The prom initially goes well for Carrie: Tommy's friends are welcoming, and Tommy himself finds that he is attracted to her. Chris's plan to rig the election is successful, and at the moment of the coronation, Chris, from outside, dumps the blood onto Carrie's and Tommy's heads. Tommy is knocked unconscious by one of the buckets and dies within minutes. The sight of Carrie drenched in blood invokes laughter from the audience. Unable to withstand the humiliation, Carrie leaves the building.

Outside, Carrie remembers her telekinesis and decides to enact vengeance on her tormentors. Using her powers, she hermetically seals the gym, activates the sprinkler system, and causes a fire that eventually ignites the school's fuel tanks, causing a massive explosion that destroys the building. Those present at the prom are killed by either electric shock, the fire, or the smoke. Carrie, in an overwhelming fit of rage, thwarts any incoming effort to fight the fire by opening the hydrants within the school's vicinity, then destroys gas stations and cuts power lines on her way home. As she does all this, she broadcasts a telepathic message, making the townspeople aware that the carnage was caused by her, even if they do not know who she is.

Carrie returns home to confront Margaret, who believes she has been possessed by Satan and must be killed. Margaret tells her that her conception was a result of what may have been marital rape. She stabs Carrie in the shoulder with a kitchen knife, but Carrie kills her by mentally stopping her heart.

Mortally wounded, Carrie makes her way to the roadhouse where she was conceived. She sees Chris and Billy leaving, having been informed of the destruction by one of Billy's friends. After Billy attempts to run Carrie over, she mentally takes control of his car and sends it racing into the tavern wall, killing both Billy and Chris. Sue, who has been following Carrie's "broadcast," finds her collapsed in the parking lot, bleeding out from the knife wound. The two have a brief telepathic conversation. Carrie had believed that Sue and Tommy had set her up for the prank, but realizes that Sue is innocent and has never felt real animosity towards her. Carrie forgives her, then dies crying out for her mother.

A state of emergency is declared. As the survivors make plans to relocate, Chamberlain foresees desolation in spite of the government allocation of finances toward rehabilitating the worker districts. Desjardin and the school's principal blame themselves for what happened and resign from teaching. Sue publishes a memoir based on her experiences. As a "White Committee" report concludes that there are and will be no others like Carrie, an Appalachian woman enthusiastically writes to her sister about her baby daughter's telekinetic powers and reminisces about their grandmother, who had similar abilities.