The Perks of Being a Wallflower
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.
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.
Content with the Mediocre: The Underside of Acceptance in Chbosky’s Novel
The novel Perks of Being a Wallflower, written by Stephen Chbosky, portrays a series of characters that strive for acceptance and understanding from others. Yet, for the most part, they are constantly ridiculed or treated like the second option. The quote “we accept the love we think we deserve”(Chbosky 24) is an explanation as to why people can always have something better, but choose to conform with what they receive primarily because of the way they view themselves, among other factors.
Someone with low self-esteem will remain with someone who treats them unfairly because they believe thats the treatment they earned. On the other hand, someone who values themselves won’t settle for less. The characters Charlie, Sam, and Patrick portray this idea perfectly due to the constant abuse they receive throughout the novel. First and foremost, Charlie’s oppression is most evident through his interactions with his family and friends. He is constantly trying to make other’s lives better, or at least, easier to handle. Yet, what he doesn’t realize is the harm he causes himself. In the novel, Charlie’s sister says “ “I hate you,” My sister said it different than she said it to my dad. She meant it with me. She really did. “I love you,” was all I could say in return”(Chbosky 26). This interaction between the characters is a general representation of the relationships that Charlie has with other characters. He will try to help and make others happy, but his actions eventually backfire, leaving him with troubling consequences and broken relationships that he tries to fix.
Another problem of his is that he puts himself in situations that are inconvenient, or even heartbreaking, for him if it means that someone else will be happy. An example of this is when Charlie writes “I am really in love with Sam, and it hurts very much”(Chbosky 47). He loves Sam, but is willing to let her be happy with someone else because he’s content with just having her close. It can be said that this is his hamartia, because Charlie will always put others before himself. Furthermore, Sam’s character is involved in a relationship in which her boyfriend loves the superficial aspect of her, not what lies underneath. Craig, her boyfriend, is with her solely for the fear of being alone, not because he actually loves her. He sees her through a perspective that makes her attractive towards him, and doesn’t see the beautiful person she is all by herself. Charlie once commented on their relationship, stating “I just think it’s bad when a boy looks at a girl and thinks that the way he sees the girl is better than the girl actually is. And I think it’s bad when the most honest way a boy can look at a girl is through a camera”(Chbosky 48-49). Sam is more invested in the relationship because it seems that she thinks better about herself because of the fact that an older boy loves her, thus being worthy of love. So she accepts his love as it is, despite knowing that his love does not reach the real her.
Ultimately, Patrick’s secret relationship with Brad is also troubling due to the fact that the love he has is seen as unacceptable and forbidden. Although knowing that getting caught would have dire consequences for both of them, he continued to see Brad despite knowing that this was hurting him. Brad had a reputation to keep, going after the girls and being a jock in general. Patrick was more open and free about his sexuality, but had to be burdened with not being able to express his love in public. Charlie participated in an experiment that clearly showed this relationship. He said “…what the scientists found out was that the rat or mouse would put up with a lot more voltage for the pleasure. Even more than for the food” (Chbosky 50). Patrick is, evidently, the rodent, who is willing to be kept hidden and ridiculed if only it means that his love is reciprocated by Brad.
All things considered, it’s apparent that the famous quote “we accept the love we think we deserve” explains how people will deal with situations in which they are aware of how much hurt they receive because they don’t want to see what they truly deserve. The Charlie’s character shows this because he accepts verbal abuse and will put others before his happiness and wellbeing, while Sam and Patrick’s abusive relationships are based on them putting up with undeserved circumstances because they want to feel loved and seek approval. This is even more tragic because they are teenagers-kids who need guidance and reassurance but are receiving none. They need to come to terms with the fact that they deserve much more than they’re receiving, and need to find something better to be truly happy.