Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks Of Being A Wallflower: How Early Experiences Have An Effect On Our Mental Health
This paper aims at highlighting the experiences that every human beings are going trough their teenage life, an emotionally period when all of us have made mistakes, break some bonds and learn after them. I will start with a quote “Standing on the fringes of life, but there comes a time to see what it looks from the dance floor.” and approach it in the rest of the paper. Stephen Chbosky’s story focuses on what it looks like to grow up in high school, having the main character Charlie, a 15 years old boy who was hospitalized for the summer after his best friend commits suicide, Charlie is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and he is about to embark on his first year of high school in a Pittsburgh suburb.
What means the Stephen Chbosky’s title “The Perks of being a Wallflower”? I found that Perk means to become or make more cheerful, lively or interesting and a Wallflower is someone with an introverted personality type or in more extreme cases social anxiety, someone who will attend at parties and social gatherings, but who will distance themselves by the others and avoid to be in the limelight. I have not chosen to talk about this book randomly, I want to share some points about how early experiences may have an effect on our mental health. Another interesting thing is that I was a teenager when I read this book, an age where everything seems so difficult to deal with it.
Angel Matos in, Writing through Growth. Growth through Writing: The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the Narrative of Development, exposed his perspective about the Chbosky’s book, that puts attention on social and personal development, he is focusing on how the novel appropriates and transmutes the conventions of the formation novel, formally known as the Bildungsroman 2, through the process and configuration of letter writing. The novel is written in a series of letters, we may not know to whom is Charlie writing, but Stephen Chbosky creates in this way a space where the protagonist can express himself, evaluate and deliberate his own position within his social context.
Let’s go back to our stuff and debate the main reason of this article, early experiences may have an effect on our mental health. While we are reading the first pages of the novel, we can realize at some points that our protagonist, Charlie has experienced at 15 years old, a young age of course, that his best friend Michael has passed away because he had problems at home and did not feel like he had anyone to talk to, that is maybe why he felt all alone and killed himself. No one can relate the feelings that Charlie had but if we move forward he is questioning himself, and we have a quote in this case:
Michael never left a note or at least his parents didn’t let anyone see it. Maybe it was “problems at home.” I wish I knew. It might make me miss him more clearly. It might have made sad sense. One thing I do know is that it makes me wonder if I have “problems at home” but it seems to me that a lot of other people have it a lot worse. Like when my sister’s first boyfriend started going around with another girl and my sister cried for the whole weekend.
As I said, Stephen Chbosky’s story is about what is like to grow up in high school. Charlie during his first year of high school is experiencing what every teenager should, he is making new friends, Sam and Patrick, he is going through some events that have an effect on his mental health like his best friend’s suicide. An important thing to know is that his aunt Helen, whom he loved, had molested him at a very young age. She was a troubled young woman who was abused by many men and in the book it is said that he was molested by her every weekend.
What I want to highlight here is that Charlie did not know that he was abused because he was so young and his mental health had to suffer, he loved his aunt especially when he had got to spend some time with her.
Furthermore, when we are young we can not face the things that comes in our ways if we have not a strong bond with our family. An article that is discussing this is Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development in, Importance of early childhood development, and here it is said that a child who has an early experience can be deeply affected in his future physical, cognitive, emotional and social development. The bonds that he is forming with his parents can help him to pass in safe his first experiences.
In the book, Stephen Chbosky is debating many aspects of teenage life, as sexuality, drug use, rape and what I talk about in this paper, mental health. Many of teenagers can not face the early experiences because these have an effect powerful than they think.
In another way of understanding the book is Angel Matos in, Growth And Development In Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, he shares his opinion about the male protagonist Charlie, in his conception “is one of the most vulnerable, raw, real, and honest literary characters that I have encountered within the realm of young adult fiction (and arguably, all genres of fiction).
In this book, besides the story, we find an interesting poem written by Dr. Earl Reum and makes us to pay more attention on what is about there and I will introduce the last paragraph because has caught my attention when I read it and it shows us how is like to be a teenager:
That’s why on the back of a brown paper bag he tried another poem and he called it ‘Absolutely Nothing’, because that’s what it was really all about and he gave himself an A and a slash on each damned wrist and he hung it on the bathroom door because this time he didn’t think he could reach the kitchen.
Our mental health depends on us, at a young age we do not know that because we are beginners in teenage life, if we do not have a strong bond with our family, we can experience some things that will change in depth our way of seeing world and people around us, we can turn into introverted persons, like Charlie from our book.
My personal opinion about this book is that it should be taught in high schools, but of course it will have opposites opinions because this book speaks obviously about what is like to be a teenager who is going through some experiences that will change in better or worse his mental health. As I said, I was a teenager when I read this book, I was like Charlie but in the second year of high school and my mental health was quite good because I have been through some experiences, as like Charlie, at a young age and changed my perspective of life, maybe I had to get through these stuffs to become who I am today. Mental health is important and we should take care of it.
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