Stephen Kings’ Rage

Stephen Kings Rage is the only Stephen King novel that you can’t walk into a bookstore and find on the shelves. Rage was the first novel that the author published under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. The book was first released in 1977 and it was also included in the omnibus collection of; The Richard Bachman Books in 1985.

The book's plot is very different from most Stephen King or Richard Bachman books. Rage, tells the story of Charlie Decker, a high school senior, who is called to the principal’s office following a violent incident involving Decker, his chemistry teacher and a pipe wrench. Charlie is expelled from the school and storms out of the principal’s office, gets a pistol and steps the locker ablaze. He then returns to his classroom, shoots his algebra teacher and takes his classmates hostage.


What follows is the four hour standoff and negotiations between Charlie Decker and the authorities outside while, inside, the Decker’s classmates begin to relate to Decker in a definite case of Stockholm syndrome and point they even stop a fellow classmate from escaping and beat him.

 Stephen King himself asked his publishers to withdraw the book from print because he felt that the story was too similar to some real classroom shootings. At first, the book was still available as a part of the collection, The Bachman Books, but current editions of that collection also now do not include rage.

There have been several occasions where Stephen Kings Rage has been connected to real high school shootings, including the case of Jeffrey Lyne Cox, who held classmates hostage in California with a semi-automatic rifle. A copy of The Bachman Books, which included Rage, was later found his locker. The case of Barry Loukaitis, from Washington, where the student shot his algebra teacher and fired on the other students and in December 1997, Michael Carneal shot eight of his fellow students at a prayer meeting in Kentucky and a copy of Rage was found in his locker too. It was this final incident that is said to have finally motivated King to have the book taken out of print.

Though the book may not be seen as one of Stephen King’s greatest, but it does explore the phenomena of high school shootings and what causes a very small minority of young people to do such evil and how thin the line can be between internalised pain and that pain exploding violently.

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