Rita L. Desjardin best known as Miss Desjardin, is a major character in Stephen King's Carrie. She is the young, attractive and lively P.E. teacher at Ewen High School in the town of Chamberlain, Maine.
She was played by Betty Buckley in 1976, in 2002 by Rena Sofer and in 2013 by Judy Greer.
In the novel, Miss Desjardin is in her first year as a gym teacher and therefore receives a little guidance from the assistant principal, Mr. Morton. As the story begins, Miss Desjardin at first feels the same disgust that everyone feels for Carrie White.
But when she witnesses Carrie being humiliated and harassed by the other girls in the locker room for her hysterical reaction to her first period and realizes that Carrie didn't even know what a period was, she takes her side and wants to punish the girls, that bullied her by having them suspended for 3 days and banned from the Senior Prom, but the principal, Mr. Grayle settles on a lesser punishment: a week of boot-camp style detention in the gym, refusing to attend it will result in 3 days suspension from school and banishment from the Prom.
In Miss Desjardin's view, the only reason why the administrators didn't go along with her proposed punishment was because they are all ruled by men and thus didn't really understand just how nasty the girl's behavior had been.
The lead bully, Chris Hargensen skips the detention and thus is banned from the Prom. Mr. Grayle reprimands Miss Desjardin for cursing at Christine, but stands by her, when Christine's lawyer, who is also her father, threatens to sue the school, unless Christine is allowed to attend the prom and Miss Desjardin fired from her job.
At the prom, she talks to Carrie about her own prom night and how she was several inches taller than her date and felt awkward, but she still remembered it as a beautiful event and later congratulates her for winning Prom Queen.
Christine rigs a cord connected to 2 buckets above Carrie and Tommy Ross and pulls it, when they are on the stage, drenching them in pig’s blood.
Everyone laughs and Miss Desjardin gets influenced by the laughter that she tries to hide it from Carrie, but to no avail as Carrie uses her telepathic powers to read her true thoughts.
Miss Desjardin later ceases to laugh and goes over to Carrie who pushes her aside with her incredibly strong telekinetic power, because Carrie knew that deep down inside she was also laughing at her by telepathically reading her mind.
Once outside, Carrie uses her telekinetic powers to wreak the school, then leaves for home, destroying everything she passes. Miss Desjardin is one of the few survivors of the "The Black Prom”, who managed to escape in the nick of time.
2 weeks after the catastrophe, Miss Desjardin retires from teaching, saying that she is secretly consumed with guilt over Carrie because of the behavior she showed at The Black Prom and to which that it contributed to Carrie's murderous rampage and also states, that she would rather kill herself than to teach again.
It is also implied she constantly has nightmares since then because of what happened.
Miss Desjardin is renamed as Miss Collins in the 1976 film and she is portrayed by Betty Buckley.
Miss Collins is one of the first characters to show kindness towards Carrie White by prompting the other girls to pass the ball to her. During the shower scene where Carrie was mistreated, the light bulb bursts, while she tended her.
Later, she goes with Carrie to the principal and explains what happened. The principal gives the girls a week's detention at her convenience or refusal of their prom tickets and 3 days suspension.
Then, Miss Collins tells the girls how upset, furious, mad and angry she is with them. Then, she makes them all do a merciless, week-long, boot camp-style detention to serve as a punishment.
When Christine Hargensen refuses, Miss Collins slaps, argues, fights with her and kicks her out of prom. Later on, Miss Collins sees an upset Carrie and asks her what's wrong and tells her how pretty she is and raises her hopes of finding someone.
She finds Sue Snell distrustful about wanting Carrie at prom and tells them off, warning them not to hurt her. At prom, Miss Collins shares her prom story with Carrie and the two of them hug.
She is later seen at the coronation of the Prom King and Queen. When Miss Collins spots Sue, who tries to warn her about the bucket and kicks her out of the gym. When the blood is poured onto her, however, she starts to cry.
When Carrie sees everybody laughing at her, she sees Miss Collins laughing and saying, "Trust me Carrie, you can trust me". As the massacre starts, Miss Collins can be seen trying to revive Tommy Ross with Cora Wilson and a few others.
She can also be seen grabbing Cora's ears trying to see if she had anything to do with the cruel prank Christine pulled.
Miss Collins and others try to carry Tommy and find help, but Carrie's telekinesis intercepts the crowd and pins Miss Collins to the side as Carrie kills her by crushing her with a falling basketball goal post like a helpless female poodle.
Notes: This is only film adaption where she dies.
In the 2002 version, Rita is portrayed by Rena Sofer, but her name is spelled "Desjarden". After finding out that Chris and her top henchwoman, Tina Blake, compounded Carrie's locker-room humiliation by vandalizing her locker and filling it with tampons, an angry Desjarden hurls a bag full of tampons at them the next day. She then announces that they've been sentenced to a week of detention, telling that skipping the punishment would result in three days' suspension and banishment from the prom. Chris, refusing to take her punishment, storms out. The principal reprimands Desjarden for this, but stands by her when Chris's father threatens with a lawsuit unless Desjarden is fired.
At the prom, she talks to Carrie about her own prom date—in this version, she says her date carried a fake gun to imitate James Bond but he ended up arrested. As a result, she remained alone at the prom until her father came and took her home. She also tells Carrie that things change, and not always for the best: the pretty, popular girls will be fat, cute boys will be bald, and the miserable ones might have a happy life. When Carrie begins destroying the gym telekinetically, in revenge for being drenched in pigs' blood, Miss Desjarden sends two students to carry the dead Tommy and leads an escape through an air vent (rather than the fire doors, as in the book). She is the last one to leave to the gym and is nearly electrocuted, but survives and reports the events to Detective John Mulcahey (David Keith), revealing her conclusion that Carrie must have been behind the destruction. She harbors no ill will toward Carrie for what transpired at the prom.
In the 2013 version, Desjardin was played by Judy Greer. As in previous portrayals, she tries to sympathize and help her. During the event of Carrie destroying the prom, Carrie lifts Desjardin, while the electric wires mix with the water on the floor. Carrie then throws her to the side for safety.
Desjardin is last seen on scene by Sue as she is looking at everyone who survived while silently telling Sue that Tommy is dead. Desjardin's arm is in a sling and she is visibly shaken and guilt ridden by what has just transpired. This is the first adaption to use the name 'Desjardin'
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