The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Perks Of Being a Wallflower
In this paper, I will analyze the messages in the film Perks of Being a Wallflower by looking at the story it tells about middle-class expressive individualism. First, I will introduce the movie and provide a brief summary of the film. I will closely analyze scenes from Perks of Being a Wallflower to illustrate the themes of toxic masculinity, relationships and mental health. Then, I will summarize Robert Bulman’s theory of suburban school films, and the stories they tell about adults. Finally, I will discuss why it is important to see Perks of Being a Wallflower as a movie that helps young adults find themselves.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a film and book focused around a fifteen year old boy named Charlie. Charlie is coping with the recent suicide of his friend Michael and trying to find his way around high school as a freshman. In his English class he finds a mentor, Bill Anderson and in his shop class he finds Patrick, his new best friend along with Patrick’s step-sister Sam. During the course of the school year Charlie goes to his first party, tries drugs and alcohol, he has his first date and kiss. His life at home is decently stable, but his parents and siblings are distant and cold at times, especially when it comes to showing affection. As Charlie grows into his own person and creates new bonds with his new friends, a disturbing secret is then let out; he has been repressing this memory of his Aunt Helen sexually assaulting him as a child. Once this is realized, Charlie has a huge breakdown that ultimately leads him to a second suicide attempt and in the hospital. At the end of the film, Charlie is seen writing a letter forgiving his Aunt for what she did and then him in his second year of high school, finding new friends.
Charlie is an awkward, shy, quiet kid who is left to loneliness and depression after one of his close friend’s commits suicide; he challenges the tropes of masculinity that most films do not portray. In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the main character isn’t your typical macho man that most young adult films depict, “as a young, male teen- Charlie is largely open and honest about his thoughts and feelings, often interjecting his thoughts and being so open that it gets him in trouble at times”. Charlie is a boy who is in touch with his sensitive side and does not have a problem with it. The typical macho man that is seen in most young adult films often have traits of toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity can include anything ranging from violence, hiding their emotions, homophobic remarks or even any form of sexual assault. Charlie does not fit into that category, he is everything but that; on the contrary, Patrick does at times fit into that category. Patrick becomes a great friend to Charlie when including him into his friend group and giving him a warm welcome, but “we see that he succumbs to more toxic traits, abandoning Charlie when he needs him most when trying to snake and see his boyfriend Brad, who keeps their relationship secret due to his fear of being outed as a homosexual…Patrick starts doing various drugs, drinking for often and causal sex all used as coping mechanisms.” Patrick shows the harmful effects of toxic masculinity not only to himself, but to those that surround him. Charlie and his friends both challenge and show the harmful conformity to tropes of masculinity that seem to often be analyzed in young adult fiction and film.
Furthermore, not only does Charlie face result of toxic masculinity from his friends, but also his family. Charlie and his family and not affectionate towards each other, as a matter of fact showing it to the same gender is often frowned upon, “I walked up to my grandfather and gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He wiped my lip print off with his palm and gave me a look. He doesn’t like the boys in the family to touch him.” Charlie is being taught that affection is not something to be given, especially towards men and this in turns creates a disconnect from forming close bonds and friendships with other males.
When it comes to relationships Charlie has not always had the best luck, until he met Sam. Sam is the third person in the inseparable trio that is Patrick and Charlie. Through football games and parties, Sam and Charlie form a close bond and they share intimate experiences and feelings with one another without the feeling of being rejected which, is something that they both fear. At one point Sam, who recently broke up with her boyfriend asked Charlie why he did not pursue anything with her, he replied, “I like Craig. And I know that I told you not to think of me that way. And I know that we can’t be together”. Naturally following that Sam and Charlie kiss, she tells him that his first kiss should be with someone who loves him. Both characters emphasize the feeling of acceptance and importance of connecting in a real and honest manner. The impact of their relationship leads to Charlie realizing there are healthy coping mechanisms for the trauma he has faced. Like Charlie, Sam was also molested as a child, but the way she copes with it is through developing a healthy relationship with herself.
Although the kissed shared between the two was something Charlie often fantasized about, it triggered a flashback of his Aunt Helen sexually assaulting him as a child. Although Charlie was young when Aunt Helen had died, he still feels a tremendous amount of guilt that contributes to his emotional stress that kept him out of school, “I don’t know how long I kept going to the doctor. I don’t remember how long they kept me out of school. It was a long time. I know that much”. Charlie’s mental health cripples him at times because he tends to overthink and analyze the past and his experiences. Throughout this time of Charlie’s struggle, his parents are not shown helping him or anything of that nature.
A mans mental is often stigmatized; which is seen especially through Charlie and his home life. One thing that is known is that Charlie’s father thinks that he is too kind and sensitive. Charlie’s relationship with his father isn’t a stereotypical one, Charlie’s dad still subscribes to an emotionally distant and often aggressive brand of masculinity, where anger is the only acceptable emotion to display. This leads to Charlie suppressing all of his emotions and only getting them out through either writing letters or finally snapping and ending up back in the hospital. Eventually Charlie has a monumental breakdown over the realization that his Aunt Helen molested him and this sends him into a downward spiral, “Charlie once again attempts suicide, and he is placed back in an inpatient facility.” It takes this second attempt from Charlie for his parents to form a close knit bond with him.
Since meeting Patrick and Sam, Charlie has felt a sense of belonging, but it wasn’t always that way. As an incoming freshman with mental health problems, Charlie felt isolated and depressed after his friends suicide, but it isn’t until he meets Patrick, a senior in his shop class that he finds his place within a friend group, “the film accurately represents the struggle that individuals face in their desire to belong and connect with others and the experience of being isolated and lonely when you feel as if you do not matter.” This film and book addresses many challenges that teenagers today face as they grow up. Many teenagers want to fit in and connect with others just like Charlie.
Perks of Being a Wallflower is a book and film that both credit and discredit Robert Bulmans theory. Bulman asserts that, “adults are not antagonists in every suburban school film. They’re often simply absent…adults play the fool”. Charlies parents oblivity to his mental illness and experiences with sexual assault ultimatly affect his downward spiral. His parents are present in his life, but are often cold to him and seem as though they are absent to him and his sister. This is shown through their lack of affection and their views on their own son, Charlie’s father thinks of him sensitive. They are only there for him towards the end when he ends up in a mental hospital.
On the contrary, one character in Perks of Being a Wallflower does disprove Bulman’s theory of adults being fools. Bill Anderson is an english teacher at the high school Charlie attends. From the moment Charlie stepped into his classroom, Mr. Anderson was drawn to him. Throughout the film and book, Mr. Anderson is seen as a mentor to Charlie. He is one of the only adults in his life that helped him mature and come out of his shell. Not to mention, he nurtures Charlies natural talents and makes him feel special intellectually. Mr. Anderson gives Charlie new books to read and he even gives him advice, after a talk Mr. Anderson told Charlie “I do consider you a friend, Charlie”. Perks of Being a Wallflower breaks the barrier of Bulman’s theory, a student and teacher being friends, let alone just talking about personal issues or struggles is very uncommon in suburban high school films.
The Perks Of Being a Wallflower By Stephen Chbosky: The Similarities Between Me And Charlie
Being decades old, The Perks of Being a Wallflower still — quite accurately — demonstrates the struggles of adapting to life as a freshman in high school; many of Charlie’s feelings and actions mirrored my personal experiences throughout all four years of high school. The book’s brazen description of reality forces the readers to adopt a pensive mood as they picture themselves in the unfortunate place of a character to which they could easily relate. It is simple to compare and contrast the aspects of my life with Charlie’s familial history, school involvement, and friendships, from which our identities are molded.
For generations within Charlie’s family, there is evidence of drug and alcohol abuse — of which, the most gripping and impactful case for Charlie is his Aunt Helen. Similarly, I have three members of just my immediate family who are victims of addiction, and — undoubtedly — the struggles derived from drug and alcohol abuse directly affect familial relationships. This is exemplified within Charlie’s maternal grandfather. During Thanksgiving, Charlie explains the traditional fights that occur, generally beginning “when his mom’s dad…finishes his third drink”. It is very important to recognize the direct relationship between substance abuse and other types — physical, sexual, emotional — abuse, which is evident when Charlie later describes listening to his maternal grandfather’s drunk babbling about “beat[ing] some sense into” his daughters, when their grades weren’t ideal. Within my immediate family, there is no physical or sexual abuse; however, my father morphs into this excessively derisive monster when he drinks, and he has made every family member cry on more than one occasion because of his words — and he is completely unapologetic. Nonetheless, these interactions have benefited me by allowing me to learn to handle unreasonable amounts of negative feelings and to develop conscientious and nurturing characteristics when I am not his target.Evidently, Charlie has stronger and more supportive relationships with his siblings as opposed to his parents, which is very similar to my household. The readers see Charlie’s bond with his sister grow deeper and more intimate as the plot progresses, especially when Charlie accompanies his sister to the abortion clinic and he is there for her both physically and emotionally. Because my parents have six kids and are generally reluctant to show any emotions — especially affection, my siblings and I have learned to depend on each other for comfort and encouragement. In Charlie’s case, the interactions between him and his siblings seem to generally develop into two-way relationships, where each person is investing the same amount of effort. Although some may argue that Charlie is predominantly the receiver of care, it is necessary to recognize the nonverbal actions that he takes to protect his siblings. For example, Charlie’s initiative to tell Bill about his sister being hit by her boyfriend not only demonstrates Charlie’s trust in Bill, but also exposes his underlying — possibly, subconscious — motive to seek help for his sister. However, in contrast to Charlie, throughout high school, I was the oldest kid living at home, the responsibility of caretaker pushed solely onto me by my older siblings who had left. None of my younger siblings at home consistently supported and encouraged me, which is not a complaint or expectation, because we all experienced great difficulty with emotional regulation.
Both having older siblings, Charlie and I were exposed to inappropriate actions as children. Charlie innocently walked into his basement, through the door which his sister neglectfully forgot to lock, to watch television when he stumbled upon his sister and her boyfriend in a moment of sexual intimacy. Additionally, while his parents were out of town, Charlie’s brother decided to throw a notorious high-school party, where Charlie was ordered to hide away. Charlie was not only surrounded by alcohol but also witnessed a rape, which affected his future sexual interactions. Similarly, my three older siblings tended to be involved with the wrong crowds throughout high school, and they often threw parties when my parents had left. I vividly remember playing beer pong in our garage on top of a mattress board — and I was pretty good. Everyone wanted me on their team, and I was extremely overjoyed to be so included with the high-school crowd. My older siblings weren’t careless with me though. Being in the early years of elementary school, I was not allowed to drink; I was just someone’s partner. While these unsuitable exposures rooted in the party scene deeply affected Charlie’s emotional and sexual development, my growth was hardly negatively impacted by the candidness of high school that these experiences entailed. Although the parties normalized alcohol use, this may have instead been accomplished through my father’s alcoholism.
The last familial similarity between Charlie and me is our fathers; the book implies that Charlie’s father is unaccepting of any sort of emotional display. This is shown when Charlie’s brother tells him to “get it out of [his] system before Dad [comes] home” while Charlie is crying. My father, similar to Charlie’s, is unwilling to show, admit, or welcome the exhibition of feelings; in my family, my siblings and I adopted the method of smiling through any suffering, and then crying alone in secrecy. Although Charlie excessively cries in public and I would be utterly humiliated crying with any audience, we both recognize the crucial extent to the concealment of tears in the presence of our fathers. However, The Perks of Being a Wallflower never mentions what actions of his father this emotional display might initiate. In all likelihood, I would infer that Charlie’s father’s dismissive and detached nature may cause him to act very comparable to my father. After telling my father about my excessive suffering with depression and the immense weight that was added while trying to conceal it, he could not comprehend that nonphysical pain exists. He did not understand that silent cry in the dead of night that we are all a little too familiar with — holding back as much as we can, just enough, so that no one can hear.
Because of the father issues Charlie and I share, we had this gaping hole that should have been filled with a strong and supportive male role model. It was difficult to accept this fact since my father was present but inactive. Until high school, I was in denial that he was a damaging kind of different — and the only reason I realized otherwise was that I happened upon a considerate, good-hearted male role model in my high school that was invested in saving me. This guidance counselor reached out to me, instead of the usual vice-versa, allowing me to feel acknowledged and remembered. Similarly, Bill expressed his concerns with Charlie after class about how he may “use thought to not participate in life” and Bill even invites Charlie over for the afternoon toward the school year. While I never went over to my role model’s house, we spent hours on end getting to know each other over the four years in high school. His office represented a safe haven where I could go with any news, with any feelings, and without any judgment. We talked about fears and insecurities, the future and the past, and how to deal with the present. Strangely, he spoke with this delicate diction, where I had to make inferences about his implications, but I didn’t mind it, for it allowed me to continue thinking about our conversations long-past their ends. While Charlie and Bill did not have lengthy conversations, they also spoke in great depths about ambiguous topics; however, many of the subjects were related to which book Charlie was assigned.
Another characteristic that Charlie and I share — most likely stemming from familial issues — is the role played in friendships. I constantly have to remind myself to reach out to my friends, instead of waiting for them to contact me. Throughout the book, Charlie hardly ever initiates contact, except when introducing himself to Patrick and Sam at the football game. For example, when Charlie is feeling strange on Christmas, he mentions that he “would tell Sam and Patrick, but they didn’t call yesterday”. Charlie doesn’t even consider calling them in order to share. This plays into the fact that both Charlie and I are individualistic and independent. However, when it comes to loneliness, we take different actions. I refuse to accept that I need friends and continue to be alone; oppositely, Charlie earnestly desires profound friendships.
Charlie’s family history and relationships are hauntingly accurate in echoing those of my family, even though we have a varying family size and my family has larger age gaps between siblings. This applies to the discussion of drug abuse and its relationship to other abuse types, sibling interactions, and fatherly disapproval of emotional displays. One can assume that these family issues played into the seeking out of a male role model throughout high school by both Charlie and me. Lastly, during relationships, Charlie and I adopt a passive role, hoping that friends will reach out to us. During his last letter, Charlie undoubtedly has acquired the sought-out support from his friends and family and the recognition of his psychological pain that had been looming over him. Contrarily, aside from the encouragement by my male role model, I continue to seek out a support system as strong and boundless as Charlie’s company.
Similar Themes in The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn And The Perks Of Being a Wallflower
Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower are separated by more than a century; yet, both novels have similar themes, transmitting a message regarding truth. However, these two novels approach this theme of truth in different methods. The narrative style in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn utilizes colloquialism irregularly, illuminating the discretion between moral and conventional truth. The Perks of Being a Wallflower employs an epistolary form to address the delicate nature of truth.
The inconsistent usage of colloquialism in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, especially during the act of lying, uncovers a distinction between moral and conventional truth. The sudden absence of colloquialism when the duke and dauphin prevaricate tinges their lies with a strong sense of sin. When duke and dauphin lie all dialect disappears and proper English is suddenly communicated. For instance, the duke and dauphin suddenly transition from dialect into formal speech when introducing themselves as royalty to Huck and Jim, an outright lie. The dauphin initially appears to be natural in local dialect, proclaiming “drot your pore borkent heart…We hain’t done nothing” (134). Imprecise orthography and syntax ooze from that sentence alone. However, when explaining his position as a king, his English significantly improves with sophisticated diction like “premature” (136) and “exiled” (136). The duke also displays flawed spelling and proficiency in dialect with misspelled words such as “staid” (132) and Southern expressions like “what’s yourn” (133). However, the “Duke of Bilgewater” displays sophisticated speech and eloquence – a large contrast from Southern slurs – when he identifies himself as “the lineal descendant of [the eldest son of the Duke of Bridgewater] – [he is] the rightful Duke of Bridgewater” (135), a well-crafted statement. An effect of colloquialism onto the reader is the establishment of an aurora of trust as if a friendly sincere farmer is talking to the reader. As a result, when the duke and dauphin lie and abandon dialect, the reader is left with a stronger sense of mistrust even apathy towards the duke and dauphin for their mendacities.
On the other hand, Huckleberry Finn never breaks his vernacular, regardless of whether his is lying or not. Huckleberry Finn lies on a fair number of occasions but never conceals his way of speech. For example, Huckleberry visits a “town…a little below the ferry landing” (65) in order for provisions. In order to avoid recognition, Huck Finn even dresses as a girl with a “sun bonnet” (64) and heads to town. Yet, the extent of his deceit fails to hide his accent with phrases such as “I ain’t afread of the dark” (66) and “it ain’t no matter now” (71). Even in fabrications in which it seems more convincing to hide the Southern yeoman drawl, Huckleberry does not shroud his patois. For instance, Huckleberry Finn attempts to convince the watchman he had relations to the affluent Jim Hornback would be more convincing if his speech was more refined than a country accent. More elegant rhetoric would give more reason for the watchman to believe his anecdote. Yet, Huck still persists with his vernacular, recalling, “Miss What-you-maycall-her, I disremember her name” (85) and how the characters “saddle-baggsed” (85). Huckleberry Finn, by never breaking his vernacular, creates a sense of trust with the reader. The colloquialism effect of trust is not broken by Huck, unlike the duke and dauphin, pushing the reader to favor Huck and waive his lies.
The colloquialism contrast coincides with the intent of the characters’ untrue concoctions to illuminate upon the distinction between a moral and conventional truth. Established by colloquialism, the duke and dauphin fail to earn the reader’s trust while Huckleberry Finn does. Huckleberry’s fabrications, therefore, seem innocent while the duke and dauphin’s actions appear to be imbedded with a sense of felony. Simultaneously, another disparity is that the duke and dauphin deceive mainly for personal gain while Huck seems to have a larger moral purpose. For example, the duke and dauphin are untruthful mostly to make a profit – they are swindlers. They lie to the townspeople when hosting a play in order to make money. They lie to the Wilks family in order to receive their family inheritance. The duke and dauphin are impervious to moral hazards when trying to make a profit. Jim is even sold – by hoodwinking Huck – due to their greed. However, Huck’s lies serve moral humane purposes. Huck deceives to the watchman in order to save the lives of two burglars stranded on a ferryboat. He also lies multiple times to hide the fugitive status of Jim and assist Jim in regrouping with his family. Huck’s white lies are to protect people, an obvious moral cause. This contrast in intention coincides with the trust built through the colloquial effect, conceiving Huck’s meaningful bluffs to be innocent while the duke and dauphin appear to be more sinister. Therefore, the reader finds sympathy with Huck’s moral decisions, a moral truth. Although Huck breaks conventional antebellum Southern customs by committing faking death to assisting a runaway slave, the reader is nudged to view Huck’s sins lightly and his cause to be fairly noble, pushing the reader to further polarize the gap between morality and antebellum Southern justice.
The epistolary form of The Perks of Being a Wallflower communicates the theme of a delicate truth – the need for confidentiality and the drastic effects of exposing the truth – through an establishment of trust. The theme of a fragile truth is communicated via text. The truth is to be trod on lightly, suggesting negative consequences of a blunt attitude. One instance that proves this theme is the secrecy in Brad and Patrick’s relationship. Brad and Patrick are gay; however, Brad wanted to keep his sexuality a secret. After Brad and Patrick “fool[ed] around in the basement” (43), Brad would always mention on Monday “’Man, I was so wasted. I don’t remember a thing’” (44), concealing the truth. Brad even pretended to pass out after having sex with Patrick due to his desire to hide his homosexuality. Truth was sensitive and fragile for Brad, a topic of caution. His reaction after his sexuality was disclosed to his father shows how the effects of truth, underscoring the need for confidentiality. After his father realizes Brad is gay, Brad becomes irrational, calling Patrick a “’Faggot!’” (150) and “punching…wrestl[ing] and hit[ting]” (151), leaving “[Patrick’s] face pretty messed up, and crying hard” (151). Brad’s breakdown and hysteric attitude about the truth shows how important confidentiality is and how devastating the divulgence of the truth can be. Charlie also has a similar experience. Charlie dearly loves his Aunt Helen, claiming, “we loved Aunt Helen, especially me” (16). However, Charlie comes to a revelation, realizing that Aunt Helen had molested him as a child. This realization left Charlie “sitting on the couch in the family room…completely naked” (208), unable to wake up even after his father “even slapped [him]” (208). Once again, the truth had a devastating effect on Charlie, suggesting that the truth should be dealt with carefully like a triggered landmine, kept secret in the dirt to avoid an explosion.
The epistolary form of the novel accentuates the theme of a delicate truth through its characteristics. Letters are a highly personal form of communication, intended for a single person and implied to be confidential. Charlie is also confiding in the reader, identifying the reader as the person who “listen[s] and understand[s] and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party” (2). He makes his desire for his story to be private explicit, stating “I will call people by different names…because I don’t want you to find me” (2). Charlie, in a novel that discuss the need for confidentiality through details such as Brad’s homosexuality and Charlie’s concealed love for Sam, is once again emphasizing the need for secrecy through narrative style. The epistolary form also further reinforces the theme of a delicate truth. A letter is not a verbatim analysis of a day, but rather a perspective. The perspective of Charlie is viewed through these letters and his focus on even minor events such as his silence after a rape at his brother’s party and his sister’s breakup shows how much emphasis is placed on secrets. Charlie views secrets to be important and integral in his everyday life.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Perks of Being a Wallflower both have a theme related to the truth that is spotlighted by their narrative styles. Colloquialism creates discretion between moral and conventional truth while epistolary form helps describe the delicate nature of reality. The elucidation of the various aspects of truth leave readers with lingering thoughts, pondering on if truth is a huckleberry, simple and plain, or a delicate wallflower with streaking colors.
A Process Of Growing Up in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Growing up and learning about new aspects of life is one of the most important stages of adulthood — it’s encountered in some time in life times, teenagers especially over other people. And not only does Stephen Chbosky’s novel Perks of Being a Wallflower connect each other to this climaxing life stage perfectly, but it also breaks it down even more by putting those life events into small stages; such as friendships, relationships, sexuality, and sadness. As people experience these themes through characters like Susan who’s magically grown boobs and “got dumber” from puberty and an increasing sexuality, there’s also main characters like Charlie who are in a new environment in Freshmen year and help all remember the fright and awkwardness of being alone in the hallways at start. With all of these events going on, it is clear to see that everyone goes through life stages quicker than others, however, Charlie is the epitome of humanity by showing all of the phases that people must go through to become who they are tomorrow.
Friendship is one of those things that Perks of Being a Wallflower shows extraordinarily well because it not only includes the positives of friendship, but also the negatives, and loss of it, as well. In the beginning, when starting off with Charlie starting a new school, the reader feels sorrowful for Charlie as he goes through a mourning after his friend, Michael, committed suicide. Still, Charlie gains some friend through the book, Sam and Patrick, who truly help him to understand himself and the world better. In fact, they help both him to observe the environment around him while also keeping him grounded to reality. However, once he was alone, Charlie would get a different taste of reality. According to the text, “I don’t know how much longer I can keep going without a friend. I used to be able to do it very easily, but that was before I knew like what having a friend was like.” (Chbosky, 144). Because Charlie really only has two solid friends in the book, he is contained to only their walls, which means that when both of those friends somehow disappear, that he must go through a time of loneliness, which turns into withdrawal, which adds on to his already subtle depression shown throughout the book.
Because of what was learned at the end of the book with Charlie and his past sexual abuse story with Aunt Helen, mixed with Charlie’s overall Coming of Age, and the loss of his friend Michael that was heard of in the beginning of the book, he is stuck in the mental hospital for a little while. However, with rising hormonal levels, depression is actually very common among teenagers, and Charlie connects the readers back to reality to show that they are not alone. Charlie even mentions symptoms like sadness and starts drinking and smoking more marijuana recreationally. The text states, “I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for just a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist.” (94). Throughout the book, Chbosky makes Charlie’s mental health well noted as he will top off some situations with social anxiety, not just his introversion. It could even be noted that Charlie is using the beginning “Dear Friend” remark as a journal to just to someone he met once a party throughout the novel because he is lonely. According to the text, “But he’s so desperate to convey the turbulence of his inner world that he decides to write letters – anonymously – to a person he once heard about, who did a nice thing for someone at a party.” (Fresh Air, n.p).
Although it may not seem like it, but the hardest part of loving and accepting others is learning to put yourself first before others. At least that is what individuals are told and shown in the novel through the character Sam. Sam being so kind and loving, while also being a caring friend towards Charlie helps him to appreciate himself more as well as love and understand the environment around him that he might not understanding quite otherwise. She doesn’t do what she does to flirt with him or end up together in a relationship, however, she does what she does to keep himself on his own two feet and provides him stability, which will more or less allow Charlie to grow and move onto more serious commitments for someone else later on down the road, such as a relationships. According to the text, “We accept the love that we think we deserve.” (24). Coming back to what has previously been discovered about Charlie and Aunt Helen, it can be assumed that Charlie’s innocence and introversion might be because he is generally afraid to get sexually involved after what has happened to him. However, Sam significantly aids Charlie in the process of letting go while also teaching him to move on from his past.
Although sexuality might not seem like such a big deal for most people, face-to-face experiences with the theme might become a little intimidating for starters. Even though this might be the case, Chbosky does an excellent work of not only defining sexuality and puberty, but also identifying homosexuality along with heterosexuality, creating a solid standard of equality in today’s society. At the start of the book when Charlie sees Susan again, he’s a little, well, dissatisfied with what she has become over the Summer. The text states, “Over the Summer, Susan got a little taller and prettier and grew breasts. Now she acts a lot dumber in the hallways, especially when the boys are around.” (6-7). But in the same time, Charlie also encounters a dream derived from his sexuality and fantasies about Sam, which he admits he later feels later for. According to the text,
“And we were both naked. And her legs were spread over the sides of the couch. And I woke up. And I had never felt so good in my life. But I also felt bad because I saw her naked without permission. I think I should tell Sam about this.” (Fresh Air).
Charlie experiences the things that everyone is usually too scared to talk about, but secretly experiences regardless.
Growing up for the most part is much harder than it looks, and reaching the point of coming of age is a blessing in disguise. As people grow older, they all experience things such as sadness, love, friends, and sexuality that comes together and ties the whole world into one thing: humanity. And that is exactly how Charlie lives the exact definition of humanity.
Main Issues Of The Perks of Being a Wallflower Novel
Brief Analytical Essay on “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
I think all any classic Bildungsroman begins with a want and need for approval, even when the unwanted actions by family and loved ones become depressing. I could feel the same pain and anxiety Charlie was feeling and it brought back a familiar feeling that I once had. I connected with him as I understood that same feeling of approval. It pulled me back four or five years ago in high school and engulfed me with emotions. But seeing the growth and happiness he gains through the movie to the end where he finally knows his place in the world after a dark, unwanted past is truly what made me chose Charlie from “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” as my character. Throughout the film Charlie relives the tragedy of his aunt through foreshadowing and flashbacks, and the happiness he began feeling when his two new friends changed his life.
Foreshadowing is a strong literary device used all through the movie building up and unfolding the truth behind Charlie’s emotional loss of his Aunt Helen. At the beginning of the movie I could tell he had a strong bond with his aunt. After a tough first day of high-school no one seemed to understand him like she did and begins writing to an unknown friend, “If my Aunt Helen were still here I could talk to her, and I know she would understand how I’m both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure how that could be, I just hope I can make a friend soon. Love always, Charlie” (perf. L. Sherman). He always talked about “getting bad again”, that showed to me there must be more to his and his aunt’s relationship. Charlie sees his sister’s boyfriend slap her, he tries to talk some sense into her when she swears he has never and will never again. He responds with, “like Aunt Helen’s boyfriends?” (perf. L. Sherman). Showing another piece, I now understand his aunt was mistreated by men in her past.
Later in the film it’s New Years and also Charlie’s birthday. He’s outside looking at the lumineers when a flashback of his aunt and him comes up from when he was a boy. Later that night seconds to go before the new year another flashback appears of his aunt unfolding the truth. She asked Charlie to keep a secret, and was killed in crash with a semi truck that night.
Through all this he started to mature and grow which made the flashbacks he saw controllable and less painful.
Charlie is the perfect example of a Bildungsroman, him being the protagonist, with the loss of his Aunt Helen. He can not seem not find his place in high school until he meets Patrick and Sam. He assumes when he meets them that they are dating but, nonetheless to find out they are step-siblings. He starts to hang out with them both more and their friend group, even though they were Seniors. Patrick and Sam take him to his first high school party. Sam’s friend gets Charlie “stoned” from a marijuana edible and becomes open and talkative, he makes friends and, talks about what he really thinks about high school. Sam is special to Charlie, he shows this at the party when he confesses he has never been “high” or even gone to a party because his best friend’s dad hated it. To my shock Sam asks, “Well where is Michael tonight?”, and him responding with, “Oh, he shot himself last May” (perf. E. Watson, L. Sherman).
Another unexpected loss Charlie has had, but after that night he seems to be growing. He writes to his unknown friend again, apologizing for not talking because he was actually trying harder to fit in. He’s starting to feel better about himself and I think Sam plays a big role in that. Charlie helps her for months with studying for the SAT test. Christmas time arrives and Sam gets him and incredible gift for helping her, a typewriter, that symbolizes a move forward in Charlie’s writing career and their relationship. She even sees their growth when she says, “I feel like I’m finally doing good” continuing with “What about you? When I met you, you were this scared freshman now look at you in that suit you’re like a sexy english schoolboy” (perf. E. Watson). He then finally reveals to Sam that he’s never had a girlfriend, he’s actually never kissed a girl before. At this point Charlie finally find out that Sam used to be abused as a child following into her teen years she would get drunk and guys would take advantage of her until now when she finally feels at peace with herself.
Charlie gets himself into an awkward situation after the Sadie-Hawkins dance of having a girlfriend. He tried for weeks to tell her how he really felt but she too nice and in their friend group so Charlie didn’t want to upset her. They go to a party together and start playing truth or dare when Patrick asks Charlie how his first relationship is going. He says, “It’s so bad that I keep fantasizing that one of us is dying of cancer, so that I don’t have to break up with her.” (Perf. L. Sherman). His friends think it’s a joke and dare him to kiss that prettiest girl in the room, so he kisses Sam. This creates a mess of trouble for him so he takes Patrick’s advice to stay away for a while.
After two weeks without seeing any of his friends. He starts to write to his unknown friend again and talks how he’s starting to get bad again. When he says that I assume he’s talking about the guilt he feels about his aunt Helen as he starts to see flashbacks of her like he use too.
He tries to communicate to his friends but they’re still upset with him. Until one day at school Patrick gets into a fight with the football players, and Charlie is the only one who stepped in to save him. That’s when he finally reconnects with Patrick and Sam. The end of the school year starts closing up which means all of his friends will be leaving for college.
This is the final turning point for Charlie and he becomes truly happy. He takes what Sam and Patrick taught him about life, love, and friendship along through high-school until it was his turn to graduate. Overall, I think the most important thing Charlie learned was that no one has control of life but your own and when you take that control back you create your own destiny.
True Friendship In Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
“True friends walk in when the rest of the world walks out” Walter Winchell . Best friends are those who show that they will there as proven in The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Throughout the book Chbosky demonstrates that bonds can quickly break, families aren’t always supportive and that new, understanding friends are better than old friends that do not. The age of a friendship is not measured by the quality of a friendship. Bonds that are made are easily broken. Despite knowing Susan for years, she ignores Charlie throughout the book. As Charlie walks through high school, he sees a familiar face and feels relieved. “In middle school Susan was very fun to be around”.
In middle school Susan and Charlie had bonded over the loss of Michael and had grown to be friends. Over the summer Susan had changed ending her and Charlie’s partnership. Furthermore, bonds that are broken are very hard to repair. Charlie talks to Susan to see how she was doing and Susan continues to ignore him. “It was almost like she didn’t want to…she used to be my friend”. Charlie was feeling alone and was wondering how Susan felt and she shut him down forgetting all about the bond the two had shared last year. Charlie isn’t just overlooked at school, he is often pushed away at home. Family love isn’t always as supportive as they should. Charlie’s kind actions are often diminished among his family. “Charlie! Shut up! Okay!? Just up!”. As Charlie sees his sister upset and goes to comfort her, she yells in response because he is still seen as her young brother who does not understand anything. Charlie also faces being ignored in his own home. Charlie wants to be helpful it is seen as annoying and in the way. “I tried to help my mother in the kitchen but I dropped the casserole…Because he wanted to watch the hockey game”. Charlie has known his family his whole life and even though they know how great Charlie is they still continue to push him away. Charlie still keeps a positive mind though because he has his new found bond with Sam and Patrick.
New friends that are understanding and accepting are way better than old friends that do not. Almost as soon as Charlie meets Sam and Patrick, they treat Charlie as they would an old friend. “The nice thing about the Big Boy was the fact that Patrick and Sam didn’t just throw around inside jokes and make me struggle to keep up”. One of Sam and Patrick’s best features is that they let Charlie in without skipping a beat and continue to treat him as a friend not as the new guy he was. After knowing Sam for only year, Charlie considers her the best friend he has had. As Sam leaves for college, Charlie tells her something as she leaves for a couple of months. “You’re my best friend”. Sam had taken the time to get to know the great guy that Charlie is and will continue to be friends well into the future.
The length of a friendship does not contribute to the value of a friendship. This is proven in Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of being a Wallflower was Charlie’s long bond with Susan finished, even in his own family he is often overlooked, and when he meets Sam and Patrick and they continue to be a good friend. “True friends walk in when the rest of the world walks out.
Charlie’s Character Maturity In The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
Everyone has sadness and fear but if we pass them we will become truly happy. This story is “The perks of being a Wallflower” gives the reader as Charlie during maturation. This story talks about when Charlie met to drugs, sexuality, and friendship while struggling through his freshman year of high school. These involve meeting new people and going through conflicts he has never seen before.
In Stephen Chbosky’s novel , the main character is Charlie and he grow from naivety to knowing about sexuality. The beginning of book Charlie is very naïve. For example, When Sam invites Charlie comes to her room to see the typewriter she bought for him for Christmas. At that time, Sam asks Charlie “Did you kiss a girl, yet “and he said “no”. This proves sexuality is not comfortable with Charlie. His annoying monk manifested from the viewpoint of being uncomfortable about the school dances: “At school dances , he sit in the background..” . Again, this shows he joins dances alone. Charlie is very naive in the story. To explain, when Candace is hit by her boyfriend. Charlie keeps quite because he mistook his friendship with his sister more important than her health, as “he wound up and hit her hard across the face, he was the boy that made mix tapes with themes and hand-colored covers until he hit my sister and stopped the crying…”. This is a naïve example of Charlie because he does not realize the serious actions of Candace’s boyfriend.
Next, in a similar case when Charlie attends his first party with Sam and Patrick. He ate the brownie but he doesn’t know and he is considering that they may be filled with pot. Charlie also faces conflict between him and Mary Elizabeth. His conflict with Mary Elizabeth is demonstrated by how one-sided his relationship is. Furthermore, Charlie struggles to have a meaning conversation with Mary Elizabeth. This is seen through a phone conversation “The only thing he can say that is “yes” or “no” , he put phone down and go to the washroom and when he comes back she is still talking”. Mary Elizabeth is loving Charlie but Charlie wants to be friend with her. This is problematic as Charlie is too timid while the breakup is more prominent. So this creates tension between their friendship. Charlie’s inability to do things for himself further contributes to his internal conflict. He does things which make people feel happy but he does not do for himself. For example, Charlie is not able to do everything alone when he appeases Patrick. Patrick kiss Charlie and say good night even although Charlie is not interested with this action. “Although Charlie is not gay but he still allows Patrick doing that because Charlie does not want Patrick more sad anymore”. Furthermore , one time Charlie started smoking and skipping class solely make Sam and Patrick happy by spending more time with them and knowing that skipping school and smoking are unacceptable behaviors.
Charlie has two epiphanies concerning his conflicts. His involvement with Mary Elizabeth in a game is to let Charlie know that Patrick dared to kiss the prettiest girl in the room. “He knows if he kisses Elizabeth that he will lie to everybody and he cannot do it anymore.” Charlie knows the fake feeling will not help anyone, including himself. After that he experiences catharsis by kissing Sam instead of Mary Elizabeth acknowledging his true feelings for Sam. Charlie relies on him being unable to do everything by himself when Sam gives him a lecture about being more self-sufficient. “He realized that he should only do what he wants and if Sam does not like it then she could just say…” This shows that Charlie has become more self-reliant because he does not care how Sam feeling but rather what he feels.
By the end of the novel, Charlie is more aware and experienced. An example of his new perceptions when he reflects on his ability to control his destiny. He believes that “We don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things and we can try to feel okay about them. Additionally, At the end of the book , he is aware that Patrick’s experiences with Sam will affect his life and the way he changes from meeting and interacting with them. They touch him many things as how to be a good friend and to think for himself. Furthermore, Charlie had more experience about his sexuality. This shows when he allows he true feeling for Sam. His sexual experiences resulted in a failed relationship with Mary Elizabeth, his first crush, first kiss, and attraction to Sam.
To sum up, Charlie has increased the awareness and confidence to control his future, including the relationships he joins in, demonstrate his character’s maturity through the novel. The perks of being a Wallflower of Stephen Chbosky shows the reader an important message: embrace differences, since life is about overcoming fears and challenges to become as happy as possible.
Summary And Reflection On The Perks Of Being A Wallflower By Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower was written in 1999 by Stephen Chbosky, an American Novelist. He was in 20’s when he wrote the said novel. In his teenage life, he was captured by the novel “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger and enjoyed classics, fantasy and horror genres which influenced his writings later on. Graduated from University of Southern California’s screenwriting program in 1992, he then gained his first agent after writing, directing and acting an independent film “The Four Corners of Nowhere” in 1995. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a very relevant and an epistolary novel written became a very different type of book. A novel about the intellectual and emotional aspect in life of a boy named Charlie who, in his early age, lost his favorite Aunt Helen whom he loves the most because of an accident and the death of his best friend Michael that resulted him to have a Depression. He unknowingly conquers it with the help of his family; his English Teacher, Mr. Anderson; and friend named Patrick and Sam. A story for the students, teenagers and even to the public as it is addressing some of the country’s issues.
The story was written in a letter form without including who that friend he was referring to that adds uniqueness to it, on August 25, 1991 and a new academic year has started. Charlie is a fifteen-year-old boy who feels awkward by the thought of socializing to people he encounters in his first year in high school. He is very observant, thoughtful and trustworthy. He’s suffering from a Depression due to his past experiences which were his Aunt Helen’s accident and his best friend Michael’s death. His English class teacher, Mr. Anderson knew his potential to be a writer so he gives him books to read and he’ll submit essays about those. In some instance, he became his mentor not just in writing but also in his life decisions. He met Patrick, his classmate in shop class, a senior and repeater and eventually his stepsister Sam, who is also a senior and he had a crush on because he sees her love and care to him like his Aunt Helen. They helped him experience friendship, music, love, rejection and acceptance. He also met the other friends of them namely Alice and Mary Elizabeth whom he was in a sudden relationship with after he performed The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Everything he knew stayed only to himself making him called a “Wallflower” by Patrick and everyone. On the other hand, both of them have to leave for college he then felt again the sadness of being left behind. He was sent to mental institution by his parents after finding him naked and literally out of his mind watching a turned off TV. The love and support sent to him were overflowing so he felt that he is loved and managed to cope up with it.
Charlie in his room telling his reasons why he is writing a letter, something about friendship and what happened to his dear best friend Michael, his family such as his father who works a lot and an honest man; his mom who cries a lot during TV programs; his brother being a football player entering college at Penn State; his sister getting a boyfriend; and lastly, his Aunt Helen living with his family because of something bad happened to her and his dad would be mad if he dared asking her what exactly happened. They became Charlie’s home every day and helped him in every way possible. It was the time that he’s entering first year high school as the new academic year started, scared on what he’ll be doing for the rest of the year because he barely had a friend to be with. After he met Patrick whom he later knew to be a gay and has a stepsister named Sam who was sexually assaulted by his father’s friend. They both introduced him to the world where men and women in their age express freedom in everything they do. In his English class, Mr. Anderson became his mentor in writing. He once said to him the quotable “we accept the love we think we deserve”. It was when he told him about his sister getting hit by his boyfriend but never thought of breaking up with him and having a feelings to Sam that only sees him as a friend. He spent his first year high school with them building a a good friendship and relationship that an introvert like him could ever ask for. It was notable that the story has just started but the reader is already learning a lesson and a different way to introduce people who are part of his life.
This novel fits to a genre of non-fiction because the happenings in the story can be related to real life situations of the teenagers nowadays. Stephen Chbosky mentioned in his interview that he sees to it that the point of view and aspects of every characters not just the main characters should be shown and given importance wither in writing or directing. Showing the essence and experience of different characters and how they met together and form a bond give a huge impact to readers. He also stated that writing a letter is a therapy for Charlie so as with him writing the story and directing the movie. People have a lot more in common than in difference that he learned to say that anything is possible. Proving his goals and objectives in his story, he claimed that in some parts that both Charlie and him had been through and that he became the closest to his heart. In addition, he pertains a wallflower not only about being gay or what you are but being an outcast that if you’re looking back in high school, you’ll remember the popularity of every student wants. “So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.” he proved and used some part of his life’s experience be a lesson in his own story that readers will relate.
The story taught and motivated me at the same time. The moment Charlie accepted and felt the love of people around him gave him the reason to stand up from being down. This story is a must read for students in our age. The format it was written is unusual but it actually gives an impact to me because it is like the letters is for me and creates connection between the author and I. What I loved the most are the friendship built inside the school, how music defines the mood and how a person can win over depression. Many students suffer from different problems such as family, financial, emotional, mental and spiritual problems. I found myself on Charlie’s situation – losing someone closest to your heart, fear of rejection, looking for the sense of being belong in a group, suffering from deep sorrow and most of all giving up in life. “We accept the love we think we deserve” got me but I think it should be “We should accept the love He gives even if we think we don’t deserve it.” because above all, His love is the most genuine you’ll feel. It was infinite.
The Presence Of Existentialism In The Perks Of Being A Wallflower By Stephan Chbosky
If you know what existentialism is, then you know how hard it is to think like an existentialist. The movie that I watched is “The Perks of being a Wallflower” and the director of the film is Stephan Chbosky. The plot summary of this film is that there is a boy named Charlie who just lost his best friend. It is his first year in high school and he is very nervous without his buddy. He goes though many ups and downs in his life but he finishes his first year of high school and makes friends. I think this movie was odd but it really showed the idea of existentialism because they focused on absurdity, isolated and aloneness and focus on other ideas and not themselves.
The idea of absurdity is really conveyed in this movie. One event in the movie that shows absurdity is when Charlie remembers his past and wants to commit suicide. Charlie, the main character, is speaking to himself and he is ashamed and guilty of what happened in his past and doesn’t want to keep remembering the same event. Charlie doesn’t want to rely on his past experiences and wants to move on. Another event that relates to absurdity is when Charlie had to make friends that the new school and it was very hard for him. He finally made some friends but they were all seniors and they had to leave when the year was over. He was very close to Sam and Patrick who were his best friends. Charlie was talking to himself in his event too because he kept telling himself that he has to make a friend on the first day and that his teacher couldn’t be the only friend that he has. After his only friends that he had at the school left, he was sad and he kept thinking about the past but then he started to think about the present. This relates to the thesis because the film did show the idea of absurdity and these events show it too. This film also shows isolated and aloneness.
The idea of being isolated and alone is shown in the film by Charlie. Charlie shows it in the event when he is worried about where he is and decides to just live his life. He is unsure if the people that he makes friends with will like him or not. He is confused about so many things in his life that he is alone. Charlie talks to himself which shows that he is alone and he doesn’t have many friends because he moved on from middle school to high school. Another event that shows isolation and aloneness is the time when Charlie’s aunt abused him and his life was different. He was not sure what exactly happened but as he got older, he understood. Charlie spoke to himself about it and the doctor about his harassment issue. He talked to the doctor about what exactly happened and then the doctor talk to him. After that he was by himself for a while and away from many things. This relates to the thesis because Charlie was very isolated in this film. There was another idea shown in the film which was it focuses on other ideas not themselves.
The film focuses on other ideas and not themselves and Charlie shows some of these events. One event is when Charlie lost his best friend and now he didn’t have a friend in school. He was going to be all alone and he finally made friends. Charlie focused on other things like Sam. Charlie was always thinking about other things and not himself. For example, he told himself that he had to make a friend the first day of school. If the teacher was the only friend that he made then that would be very weird. It could be because he didn’t want people to judge him to not have friends and be a loner. Another event that relates to the idea is when he had a crush on Sam. Charlie was speaking to himself if Sam would actually like him. He was very unsure and didn’t want to make the wrong choice. Charlie didn’t want to just go and talk to her because that would be awkward. Charlie was confused about what was happening. Then Sam and Charlie became friends and got to know each other. Charlie figured out that Sam already had a boyfriend and he couldn’t date her. This shows that they focused more on the other people and not on Charlie which relates to my thesis. These are just some examples of existentialism in this film.
I believe that “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was a strange movie but it did hit the idea of existentialism because it explained absurdity, isolation and loneliness and they focused on other ideas not themselves. Overall, this movie was weird but wasn’t the worst movie that I have seen. I wouldn’t recommend this movie if you don’t like intense movies.
Coming of Age in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Life is about overcoming obstacles and fears to become truly happy, a message that The Perks of Being a Wallflower teaches its readers as Charlie matures through the coming-of-age process. The story follows Charlie as he encounters drugs, sexuality, and friendship while struggling through his freshman year of high school. This involves meeting new people and going through conflicts he has never had to deal with before such as drugs, alcohol, and peer pressure.
In Stephen Chbosky’s realistic coming-of-age novel, the protagonist, Charlie, grows from naivety to self-awareness and from chastity to sexuality. At the beginning of the book, Charlie is both innocent and naive. An example of his innocence can be seen when Sam invites Charlie to her room to show him the typewriter she bought him for Christmas. Sam asks Charlie if he has ever kissed a girl: “[he] shook [his] no. It was so quiet.” This proves how uncomfortable sexuality is for Charlie (70). His discomfort is also evident when he describes his uncomfortable perspective on the school dances: “At the school dances, [he] sit[s] in the background… wonder[ing] how many couples will dance to their song…’” Again, this shows that he attends dances alone (24). Charlie is also very naive early in the book. For instance, when Candace is hit by her boyfriend, Charlie keeps quiet, despite the violent attack, as he mistakenly believes that his friendship with his sister is more important than her well being, as: “…he wound up and hit her hard across the face…It was not like him at all to hit anybody. He was the boy that made mix tapes with themes and hand-colored covers until he hit my sister and stopped the crying…” This is an example of naivety as Charlie does not realize how severe Candace’s boyfriend’s actions are and how someone may seem nice on the outside but are capable of much more (11).
In a similar case, when Charlie attends his first party with Sam and Patrick “[he] ate the brownie, and it tasted a little weird, but it was still a brownie…But this was not an ordinary brownie” He eats the brownies not knowing, or even considering, that they may be filled with pot (35). Charlie also faces conflict throughout the novel due to his new relationship with Mary Elizabeth, and how his actions are influenced more by what he believes other people would like him to do, rather than what he would like to do. Part of his conflict with Mary Elizabeth is demonstrated by how one-sided his relationship is. Namely, Charlie struggles to participate meaningfully in any conversation with Mary Elizabeth. This deficiency is seen while the two are trying to have a phone conversation and “The only thing [he] could say was either “yes” or “no”. There was honestly no room to say anything else… [he] put down the phone, went to the bathroom, and when [he] came back, she was still talking.”(129). In addition, Charlie and Mary Elizabeth do not have a mutual physical attraction. Mary Elizabeth is head over heels in love with Charlie, while Charlie would prefer to be just friends. This is problematic as Charlie is too timid to break up with the more dominant Mary Elizabeth and this creates tension in their friends circle, as Patrick and Sam believe it would be unfair for Charlie to continue to string Mary Elizabeth along. Charlie’s inability to do things for himself further contributes to his internal conflict. He does things to appease others, but never to make himself happy. An example of Charlie’s inability to do things for himself is when he is comforting a heartbroken Patrick. Patrick kisses him goodnight and continues to kiss Charlie even though Charlie gets no pleasure from the experience: ““Did you want him to kiss you?”… “I was just trying to be a friend,” [he] said.”” Even though Charlie is not gay he allowed Patrick to kiss him, as he didn’t want to upset Patrick any further (201). Charlie again shows his desire for acceptance when he begins smoking and skipping class solely to make Sam and Patrick happy by spending more time with them, despite knowing that skipping school and smoking are unacceptable behaviors.
Charlie has two epiphanies concerning his conflicts. An epiphany happens concerning his relationship with Mary Elizabeth during a game of truth or dare where Charlie is dared by Patrick to kiss the prettiest girl in the room: “[he] knew that if [he] kissed Mary Elizabeth [he] would be lying to everyone. Including Sam. Including Patrick. Including Mary Elizabeth. And [he] just couldn’t do it anymore…” Charlie discovers that faking his feelings for Mary Elizabeth is not helping anyone, including himself (135). After this realization he experiences catharsis by kissing Sam instead of Mary Elizabeth, acknowledging his true feelings for Sam. Charlie’s second epiphany is based on his inability to do things for himself, and occurs when Sam gives him a lecture about being more self-sufficient: “[he] figured that [he] should just do what [he] wanted to do… And if [Sam] didn’t like it, then she could just say so.” This shows Charlie’s progression into becoming self-sufficient as he does not care so much about how Sam would feel, but rather what he feels (202). The catharsis that follows this is Charlie kissing Sam again, but this time it is more passionate.
By the end of the novel, Charlie is more aware and experienced. An example of his new-found awareness is shown when he reflects on his ability to control his destiny. He believes that: “… even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.” This illustrates that life is not rainbows and daisies and that there is a possibility Charlie will not like the outcome of his actions/life. (211). Additionally, at the end of the book he becomes aware of how impactful his experiences with Sam and Patrick are on his life and how he will be forever changed from meeting and interacting with them. They have taught him many things such as how to be a good friend and to think for himself. Furthermore, Charlie has become much more experienced concerning his sexuality. This is seen when he allows his true feelings for Sam to emerge. His sexual experiences resulted in a failed relationship with Mary Elizabeth, his first crush, first kiss, and attraction to Sam.
Charlie’s increased self-awareness and confidence in his ability to control his future, including the relationships he engages in, demonstrate his character’s maturity through the novel. Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower resonates with its readers, and leaves them with an important message: embrace differences, since life is about overcoming fears and challenges to become as happy as possible.