The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I’ll start this post with a confession:  I saw the movie before reading the book.  Usually I don’t like doing this, and this is no exception, but it’s okay.  I can manage.  I wonder if the questions that the movie presented are answered in the book. So far, I’ve found the novel to be enticing and relatable.  On page 2, Chbosky writes, “I need to know that these people exist”.  I found this quote very provoking, because it alludes to Charlie’s lack of trust in people, likely due to a previous experience.  He is imploring the person he is writing to be trustworthy, to not let him down.  He needs the reassurance that there are “good” people in the world, even if he has had much interaction with “bad” people.

From the movie, I know that there is an issue with Aunt Helen, but the book delves in to the role she played in his life, and how she was ‘corpulent’.  I am wondering what it is that happened to her that Charlie was so curious about.

Another quote I found very interesting was that of Bill, ” ‘Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve’ ” (24).  I agree with this statement; it goes along with being friends with people that have similar levels of self esteem.  We love people whom we think are like us, or are valuable to us.  I’m not sure why Charlie’s sister thinks she deserves to be hit, however.

This is sure to be a quick read, and I am going to exercise the most self-restraint as possible when trying to not read ahead.

~Casey

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25 responses to “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  1. March 25, 2013
    Dear Fellow Bloggers,

    I finished reading part 1 and I can see how people would like this book. Charlie is simple but smart, innocent yet perceptive. Some people might not find him especially “relatable” (how many of us truly analyze everyone around us?) but that doesn’t matter much. Everyone needs a break from their own selves once in a while.

    In many books, I think that the plot gets “trapped” by the protagonist’s goals, and the story ends up feeling one dimensional and objective. Everything that is written is just there to continue the plot, either to make it easier of harder for the protagonist to achieve his/her goal. Real life isn’t that objective—sometimes things happen just because and we have to appreciate them. I like Charlie because he’s weird and he doesn’t have a complicated “goal” yet. He just wants to survive his freshman year of high school and maybe make some friends along the way. It’s refreshing to read a book in the perspective of a protagonist that is different than the same old protagonist of other books that keeps on changing names.

    There is just one thing that I don’t like about the book so far, and you guys might berate me because of what I’m going to say, but I’ll say it anyways because I’m safe at home. The Perk’s of Being of a Wallflower is kind of generic so far. The high school scene is the same as most of the coming-of-age-set-in-an-American-highschool-book/movie works. There is always someone who “changes” during the summer (Susan), something tragic that happens to someone before the year starts (Michael), the “popular” group that is always made up of the football players and co., and the “unpopular” group that is peculiar in some way to the rest of the school. I’m hoping that it won’t turn out that way in the rest of the book, because Charlie is such a unique character to be wasted on a generic book. Oh well that’s all I have to say for now.

    Love Always,

    Gabriella

  2. starliu2

    Gabriella, I see what you did there with the “Dear Fellow Bloggers” and “Love Always”. I applaud you. Anyways, I agree that Perks at first seems like your typical ho-hum angsty teenage novel, and I suppose it is. The main character doesn’t fit in at school, he develops a crush on some girl, girl doesn’t like him back etc. etc. The plot may be generic here at first, but what makes Perks different from all those other YA books on the shelf is Chbosky’s language and how he manages to use language to explore the human nature of all of us, whether we are wallflowers or not. For one, judt look of the title of this book: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. How could you not immediately be intrigued by that?

    Crystal (I’m from the LOP group)
    p.s. So what do you guys think the perks of being a wallflower are so far?

    • (Just an idea… Charlie observes the lives of other around him and he is able to understand and care about others rather than just focusing on himself. By being a wallflower looking in to the lives of different people, Charlie is able to have multiple “experiences” rather than just his own.)

  3. Well it does look like Star has crashed our book party. Gabriella, you bring up an interesting point about whether Perks of Being a Wallflower is generic. Guiltily, I must admit that I, like Casey, saw the movie before I read the book, but I like the book much better. It has allowed me to delve deeper into the characters and understand their motivations, triumphs, fears, and goals on a more complicated level than the movie conveyed. In answer to your thought, Gabriella, I do not think Perks of Being a Wallflower is a generic book. When deciding this, one must keep it in mind that the book is about someone who is afraid to participate in life, someone who is unwilling to take risks for fear of failure.
    Think about typical young adult protagonists. First of all, the person must usually possess some supernatural ability or other otherworldly talent. Then, they must also demand the attention of those around them, something Charlie, as a rule, strays away from. Also, the typical American teenager is someone who needs to be in the spotlight in order to feel worthy. People are constantly trying to get attention from their peers, whether its bragging about a grade, causing trouble in class, or participating in a sport and excelling. Charlie is the opposite of that, which already pushes the book into a non-generic place. Charlie is AFRAID to speak or to dance or to move away from the wall he holds so dear. Most of us, I will venture to say, want the attention of our peers, while Charlie is content, and, possibly even happier, without the spotlight.
    But this brings me to another interesting point that Chbosky touches on in the first part. Is it better to live one’s life up against the wall, or be out on the dance floor participating? The answer for Charlie is clearly stated in the first part, though may become more muddled as the book continues. Participating is better. This is a lesson that Bill introduces almost as soon as the pair meet. But in this first part, Bill’s (and Chbosky’s) answer is only for Charlie, an individual who has spent his whole life not participating. What about the others? What about the people who participate too much and run themselves ragged? What about them? I found this question to be itching at the back of my mind as I read part one and am hoping Chbosky delves deeper into the passivity vs. participation. Still, I found Perks of Being a Wallflower to be an enjoyable and fresh take on the typical adolescence experience.

  4. sarahwallin12

    It might be a little bit too late to join this very deep conversation, but I would just like to put in my own opinion here. Like Gabriella, I understand that this story come off as a little bit typical, but I don’t think by any means is it cliche. Unlike many other YA authors at this time, Chbosky takes a slightly generic approach to the plot of his story, and focuses more on the styling, rather than say, Stephanie Myer who pushed the plot to a point where it almost felt forced, and, if you’ll excuse me for saying this, abandoned basic literary techniques along the way. By choosing Charlie to be the narrator, and only have his input on the world and events that take place around him, it creates a definite sense of comfort for the reader, and almost a bit of pity for the naive ways of the narrator. This keeps the story interesting in such a way that doesn’t rely on ground-breaking plot lines or mythical beings.
    Additionally, the character development techniques in this book really hit close to home for me, as many of the characters seem so real, since the plot is so basic and relatable. Charlie is quite socially clueless, but he does seem to have the ability, as a wallflower, to observe people in his life, and write down in his letters exactly what he sees, and he doesn’t seem to feel the need to try to figure out why these people do what they do. These characters are so well depicted through Charlie’s observations, that the reader get a clear sense of what these complex characters are like. That being said, the lack of interpretation on Charlie’s part leaves so much open to the reader, that two people reading this book could be reading a completely different story, and I think that may be why this slightly generic book apppeals to so many YA readers.

  5. Unlike many people who have posted before me, I have not seen the movie yet, though hearing all of the chatter makes me desperate to. Though at first I agreed with Gabriella that the book seemed a little cliche and followed a generic plot, I now think that Chbosky adds another layer to the novel by using different methods of writing that we have not yet familiarized ourselves with. One of these methods is the structure of the book and how It is composed of many letters from Charlie to us, the readers. Personally, after reading one letter I was already looking forward to seeing what the next one would focus on and what events Charlie would choose to depict. The letters, though, also seemed to jump around a little for me and it almost felt like Chbosky did not spend enough time explaining each scenario, rather he left many things up for the reader to interpret as Sarah said.

    I also believe that Chbosky chooses to delve deeper into the characters’ personalities instead of focusing on how to discuss certain events more in depth. For me, I was immediately intrigued by Charlie because I found that I had a lot in common with him on how he likes to shy away from the spotlight and chooses to observe rather than participate. By writing more about Charlie’s personality instead of events, I believe that Chbosky strengthened the relationship that many readers, including myself, have with Charlie. Totally opposite from Charlie, I also felt connected with Sam who loves to experience life to the fullest and does this by dancing, laughing, and participating in numerous activities. Though she participates, Sam is still considered a wallflower like Charlie. By having two characters who contrast each other but also connect through their spot on the wall, Chbosky adds to the books plot by essentially strengthening the characters’ personas. I thoroughly enjoyed the first section of the book and I believe that the rest will continue to amaze.

    Mckenna Murray

  6. Of course, like most of you guys, I’ve seen the movie too, and I have to say it’s kind of a spoiler for the book. However, I’ve found that the book clarifies a lot of what happened in the movie, which is incredibly helpful. Gabriella, I agree with you and Star that this book does seem like the run-of-the-mill adolescent drama, but I think that what really sets this book apart is Charlie’s voice. Maybe it comes from his personality of a “wallflower” but I think that reading a book from his perspective is fascinating. Understanding some of the most basic things is something that we take for granted, but for Charlie, he sees every situation differently than most would. For example, when he sees his sister get hit for the first time, Charlie thinks little of it, noting, “I guess he stood up to his bully. And I guess that makes sense” (11). This view of the situation might come from Charlie’s PTSD (which I am pretty sure he has, considering the vivid descriptions of his traumatic past), but where most people would have seen a monster of a boyfriend slapping his girlfriend, Charlie understands where he’s coming from and why the boyfriend is acting in such a way. Near the end of the section, Patrick accurately explains his situation, telling the Charlie, “’You see things. You keep quiet of them. And you understand’” (37).

    One of the best parts about this book is the way that each character is developed. As Mckenna pointed out, Chbosky allows the reader to make her own inferences about the book by describing the personalities of each character, rather than making his own assumptions about the reasoning behind their actions. Even this early in the book, it’s clear that there’s a lot more to everyone’s story, giving meaning to Aunt Helen and Charlie’s past together, Sam’s inability to love Charlie the way he wants her to, and, of course, Patrick and Brad’s secret relationship. All of these little stories that makeup Charlie’s life give so much more meaning to the novel, and I can tell already that I’m going to love it.

    One last note: there was one line that Charlie said in his letter that really resonated with me, because I feel like at some level, this is applicable to everyone’s life. “I wonder if anyone is really happy. I hope they are. I really hope they are” (24). Having gone through so much in the short time he’s been alive, Charlie’s selfless attitude towards those around him is so sweet, and brings to mind the question if anyone, anywhere is truly happy. I hate to be morbid here, but with all the pain and suffering around the world, can anyone really, truly be happy?

  7. I disagree with the comment that TPBW is a generic book. Charlie’s obvious past struggles and the way he deals with them make it unique. The foreshadowing is becoming too much for me!! I want to find out what happened. The poem on pages 70-73 that Charlie reads Patrick for Thanksgiving gave a lot of clues. It was a vividly tragic poem, but I feel it has some sort of parallel to Aunt Helen. Also, the telling of Charlie’s abusive grandfather gave a lot of insight into his anxieties. One of the most profound quotes in the section was “I’m really glad that Christmas and my birthday are soon because that means they will be over soon because I can already feel myself going to a bad place I used to go. After my Aunt Helen was gone, I went to that place. It got so bad that my mom had to take me to a doctor, and I was held back a grade. But now I’m trying not to think about too much because that makes it worse” (74). Radhika, I think Charlie’s problems are much worse than PTSD, though that might be part of it. He seems to have survivor’s guilt of some sort as a result of his ‘fault’ for Aunt Helen’s death. I’m curious as to whether her death was actually suicide…
    Which is another topic explored in this section. Going back to the poem, “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” (73). Chilling. I have a hard time believing that he didn’t understand the connotations before. The poem tells of a young boy’s progression from happy innocence to crushing depression as his family, academics, and romance worsen.
    Speaking of romance, I was pleasantly surprised when Sam kissed Charlie 🙂 There’s definitely going to be a romance between them.. But then again, I’ve seen the movie.
    ~Casey

  8. Mckenna M.

    Throughout the second section of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I felt that Charlie’s personality, as a wallflower, was more evident than before. Though for me, finding out about Patrick and Brad’s secret relationship was a little upsetting, due to the fact that Brad drunkenness was used as his excuse for his actions, Charlie seemed to take the revelation in stride and thought very little of it. As Patrick said of Charlie, “You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand” (37). This understanding of Charlie’s is eye opening and shows how little us, readers truly observe things. For example, when Charlie notices that his family “loves each other, but no one really likes each other” (56), I immediately related this to my own family and how little we know about each other, yet we still say that we love one another.

    Another thought that intrigued me was how Charlie knew more about his friends, than he did his family. For Christmas, Charlie knew exactly what present to give each of his friends, even though he was not very close to them and had only just met them. Though it was easy to decide for his friends, Charlie became stuck trying to find a gift for his father, showing how little he actually knows his family. It seems to me that Charlie chooses to know certain people. Since his friends are kind to him and treat him with respect, he wants to know more about them and their personalities, but for his family, who always fights, Charlie chooses to not take the time to know them.

    Foreshadowing, as Casey said, is also very evident in this section. The anniversary of Aunt Helen’s death is mentioned in numerous letters, and the readers learn that Charlie feels guilty since she died while buying him a birthday present. I find this guilt to be almost silly, since he regrets being born on a day that snows, something that he could not have changed, and that Aunt Helen wanted to buy him a second birthday present, which again was her choice not his. This guilt seems to be another layer of Charlie’s wallflower personality. He feels that he has to take the blame for everything that happens, and is almost too selfless. By delving deeper into Charlie’s personality, Chbosky allows readers to create a better connection with him as a character.

    ~Mckenna Murray

  9. Casey, you bring up an interesting question about the circumstances of Aunt Helen’s death. Was it suicide? I’m not sure, but I don’t think she had a reason to commit suicide. Yes Aunt Helen led a troubled life, with substance abuse and abusive men, but she had supposedly gotten over that. Charlie adds that she “ went to a hospital that helped her figure things out” (90). Aunt Helen was able to put her life back together and I don’t see any reason why she would commit suicide, especially on Charlie’s birthday. She loved Charlie too much to do that!

    As for the poem, I am not surprised that Charlie didn’t sense its morbidity. I find that Charlie has a tendency to try to see the best of people and bad situations. For example, his Grandpa is obviously racist, sharp tonged and unpleasant to be around yet Charlie tries to view his side of the story, and justify Grandpa’s behavior as a side effect of a hard life and a lack of opportunities.

    Going back to the poem, I think Charlie only sensed the poetry of the words and their connection to his life, not the ominous ending. Charlie probably related to the downward cycle of life that the person went through because it connected to Charlies past. Charlie too got worse and worse and had to go see a doctor. But Charlie was able to get better, meet new friends and have a chance to discover a happier life. Maybe Charlie assumed that the same thing happened to the narrator.

    I listened to “Asleep” by the Smiths, and even though the song is about death and sadness, I can see why Charlie loves it. It sounded beautiful, sad, fresh, simple and sweet at the same time, so I guess that Charlie appreciates the beauty of the song, rather than what it means, just like he tries to appreciate the beauty of life rather than how complex it can be.

    Don’t try to wake me in the morning
    ‘Cause I will be gone
    Don’t feel bad for me
    I want you to know
    Deep in the cell of my heart
    I will feel so glad to go”

  10. sarahwallin12

    I think that the reason that Charlie seems to be such a complex character is because he really isn’t. Everything that has been brought up, such as the poem, is all just a representation of how little Charlie dwells on metaphors and hidden meanings. When Charlie picked out the poem, he didn’t do so because he understood the true meaning of it, he chose it because he liked the way the words sounded together, and refused to believe that the words were any more than words. For many people, I think it is hard to understand people who view things so simply. When Charlie was asked to kiss the prettiest girl in the room, and he chose Sam over his girlfriend, it wasn’t that he wanted to hurt Mary Elizabeth, he just didn’t know that some honesty comes with strings attached. It was nothing more that his simple way of approaching situations that got him in trouble. And just like me as I was reading this, the characters in the story were shocked, and to some extent, angry at Charlies lack of ability to observe the moral shades of grey.
    I think that this character trait of Charlie is the reason for much of his emotional instability and anxiety. He is unable to understand why things aren’t exactly as they seem, and he doesn’t like when people try to explain to him these things. Many people in the book are trying to figure Charlie out, and trying to understand how he sees the world, but I think that they are over thinking things. Charlie does his best to be an open book, and he gets sad when other people aren’t the same. I think his inability to interpret things complexly challenges the reader to read with the same open mind, making the novel much more intriguing.

  11. Emily Elott

    By Emily Elott:
    Part of the reason why we love Charlie in Perks of Being a Wallflower is because of his innocence. Yes, he makes bad decisions and doesn’t know quite how to act in social situations, but he is sweet and genuine and nice. As readers, we feel for Charlie and his social ambiguity. We want him to rise above his troubles and find happiness. In this section, I found Mary Elizabeth to be quite annoying in that she was preventing Charlie from finding the happiness that he seeks. Sam, on the otherhand, understands Charlie on such an innate level that all readers cannot help but hope that she ends up with Charlie.
    I also noticed in this section that there is more exposition of Charlie’s past problems, but it is told through the events of the story. Aunt Helen is especially interesting, and she has been mentioned in other blog posts. What is Aunt Helen’s significance? How does she play a role in Charlie’s slow mental deterioration? Is it that Aunt Helen is gone and dead that is causing Charlie’s misgivings? Chbosky does well at giving readers enough information to pique their interest while still at the same time keeping Charlie’s past experiences shrouded in an air of mystery.
    Still, as time has gone on with this book, I am growing more and more attached to the characters. I love them not only because of their good traits but because they are real. All of the characters in this story have flaws, and the story is about them overcoming their flaws to be better people. This is a message that resounds with adolescent readers, as we all are discovering our flaws, but also how to work around these flaws.

  12. I think that a large part of this section is dedicated to showing the differences between Charlie’s relationships with his family and with his friends. After just spending some time in the car with Charlie and his family, it is clear that Charlie’s family rarely makes an effort to understand Charlie’s complexities (or innocence, as some of you prefer to call it). Though Charlie attempts to diffuse the tension between his siblings, they simply brush him aside and pretend as if he barely matters. On the other hand, with his friends, Charlie is treated like he is important. They listen to what he has to say and considers the meanings behind his actions. For example, after reading that incredibly poignant poem, Charlie’s friends understand just what it means to Charlie, even though Charlie didn’t even quite understand it himself. In his words, “…they knew. Not anything specific really. They just knew. And I think that’s all you can ever ask from a friend” (66).
    Sarah, I agree with what you said about Charlie’s inability to observe ‘moral shades of grey’. I think that because he doesn’t see the world’s blind spots like other people do, he tries to see the good in people (rather than the bad) and sometimes people take advantage of that, especially his family. In this section, I think the importance of friends is really emphasized, because even though Charlie loves his family and they love him, they don’t fully understand Charlie’s personality. However, Charlie’s friends are able to love him for everything that he is, and this makes a huge impact on Charlie’s life.

  13. mhmurray25

    Throughout the third section of the book we can really see how innocent and almost awkward Charlie is in social situations. Though he is trying to learn the “rules” on how to act with his friends, Charlie depends on others to guide him and make decisions for him. Many times, Charlie behaves normally, like on his dates with Mary Elizabeth where he asks questions and compliments her outfit, but this is only because Sam instructed Charlie on what to say and do. Once no one is teaching him how to behave, Charlie is confused and therefore makes mistakes like kissing Sam rather than Mary Elizabeth at the party. This reliance on others to guide his decisions shows how immature and childish Charlie is, but this only makes the reader like Charlie even more since we feel sorry for him and want to help him succeed and become happy.

    Another point that interested me was how Charlie only experiences the negative aspects of human sexuality. For example, Charlie has to accompany his sister to get an abortion after her boyfriend breaks up with her due to the news of her pregnancy and he faces many incomfortable situations with Mary Elizabeth where he says it “doesn’t feel right” (130). These experiences most likely scar Charlie and scare him away from forming many healthy relationships. This could be a cause fo Charlie’s shyness and insecurity.

    In this section we also see the affects that drugs and alcohol have on Charlie. The section starts with Charlie falling asleep in the snow after taking LSD and having to revisit a psychiatrist because of it. Charlie also relies on cigarettes to take his mind away from bad situations, like when Charlie is about to cry at the abortion center, he has to go to his car and have a cigarette. He also chooses to join Sam and Patrick during school for a smoke because he was getting teased about his outfit. Though Charlie’s new friends seem to have helped his social issues this school year, they have also introduced him to drugs, alcohol, and skipping classes. I am not sure that Charlie should be relying on his friends so much considering they are in just as bad of shape as Charlie is with their relationships and drug and alcohol abuse.

  14. I agree with Mckenna regarding drug abuse. It is definitely not something that was brought out in the movie. His ability to be beguiled so easily accentuates one of the anti-perks (deficits?) of being a wallflower. He is so unable to stand up for himself, and is now reliant on cigarettes to get him through the day. Charlie takes suggestions to quit smoking very lightly–which also is an aspect of the time period, I’m sure. Still, it seems stupid through the lenses of today’s day and age. I am glad, at least, that he vows to not take LSD again. I am struggling to see what the perks of being a wallflower are; it seems that his friends are doing him more harm than good. Going back to the “we accept the love we think we deserve” quote, I believe it can be changed to “we accept the friendships we think we deserve.”
    Also, I was interested in Charlie’s reading of “Naked Lunch” and wonder if his confusion with it is perhaps metaphorical to his sudden confusion with the life he’s living. He is spineless in the path he is following, unable to stand up for himself or what he wants to do (sound like any other fictional characters we know? ahem Juliet ahem). His selflessness is admirable, but at a certain point it becomes too much, clearly shown in when he kisses Sam instead of Mary Elizabeth. I’m glad that, for once, he was able to stand up for what he wanted, even though it led to massive drama.
    The line ” ‘Her outfit is her choice whereas her face isn’t’ ” really sticks in my mind, though I’m not sure why. It shows the lack of closeness and chemistry between Charlie and Mary Elizabeth.

    I admit, I have finished the book already and did not maintain self-restraint. It was just too good.
    ~Casey

  15. Part of me is just disappointed. Like Casey said, Charlie is experiencing the drawbacks of being a wallflower. Yet, the biggest issue I see is how he is simply following the footsteps of his friends. For someone as psychologically instable as Charlie, I can’t see how LSD can be a good idea. And I expected more from Sam. She does help Charlie get out of his “trance” on page 102 , but she and Patrick just laugh with him afterwards. Sam should be more mature than this—she is Charlie’s protector!
    I just can’t get over the bad influence that Charlie’s friends have on him. In my opinion, cigarettes , pot and LSD, are not something that worthwhile friends share. And I can’t believe that Charlie allowed himself to be forced into a relationship with Mary Elizabeth. He obviously wasn’t comfortable with M.E. at her house and I can’t help but think that she is just using him in order to lift her self-esteem up. If she would truly care about him, M.E. would ask more about Charlie than “what’s up.”
    The only positive influence I can see so far in Charlie’s life, since his aunt’s death, is Bill, but since On the Road was apparently written by someone on heroine I can tell that Bill was probably like Charlie’s friends at their age. I’m not yet sure of his intentions.
    I’m wondering what you guys think about Charlie’s view of relationships now that Mary Elisabeth has broken up with him. Do you think that Charlie will automatically have a negative interpretation of relationships now that he has had such an awkward experience with M.E.?

  16. Emily Elott

    Gabriella, your question about Mary Elizabeth brings up an interesting point. Is this “dalliance” with Mary Elizabeth going to have a profound impact on the way Charlie views relationships?
    I think the answer, in this case, is no. By now, we have finished the majority of the book and have explored Charlie’s character for a long time. At this point, Charlie has presented himself to be an unstable, lost, yet hopeful “wallflower.” Also, at this point, Charlie has always demonstrated a great deal of independence and self-reliance. Therefore, Mary Elizabeth will have no impact on any future relationships, as Charlie really never cared about her at all. He went out with her in the first place because Charlie was observant, and he realized that the group dynamic would not have stayed the same had he rejected Mary Elizabeth. Charlie did not see Mary Elizabeth as “his one great love.” Sam had always been his “great love,” since the beginning of the book. Any future endeavors Charlie attempts will be helped by the experience he gained in dating Mary Elizabeth, rather than hindered by the dramatic way it ended.
    Many of the other recent blog posts have discussed drug abuse. I agree fully that friends who encourage drug abuse are not good friends, and that Charlie should be viewing drugs with more caution, but, at the same time, Charlie’s use of drugs also has justification in his character. One of the themes in this novel is living in the moment, of taking risks, of “participating.” Throughout the novel, Charlie struggles with his innate lack of participation. His doing drugs is, for him, participating. He is with his friends, having a good time, and taking that LSD, in the moment, may have seemed like one step further away from being a “wallflower.” I do not condone Charlie’s drug use at all, but there is a foundation for it in his character. Obviously, we know Charlie is inherently flawed. We may not know the exact reason why, but we know that Charlie’s life has not been perfect. Perhaps, Charlie’s drug use is Chbosky’s way of illustrating to readers that we can never truly escape our pasts. And cigarettes and LSD are possibly Charlie’s former demons that he has never truly dealt with resurfacing.

  17. Though drug abuse seems to be the main topic of discussion in this section, I think that a large majority of it focuses on the many dimensions of Charlie’s personality. At the beginning of the novel, we saw him as a shy, simple boy. Yet he shows a number of sides to himself throughout this section. In the end of the last section and the beginning of this one, he is seen as a bit of a pushover and a rebel at the same time, trying illegal drugs because his friends encouraged him. However, he was immediately remorseful about the LSD and swore never to try again. Of course, he immediately comforted himself with cigarettes, another drug, but I’ll get to that. Showing off his submissive side again, he allowed himself to be smothered in a relationship with Mary Elizabeth though he was truly in love with Sam. Then, Charlie expressed this in a moment of honesty and courage by kissing her, and was rewarded with isolation. During this time, he also showed a great deal of loyalty to his sister by accompanying her to the abortion clinic.
    To sum it up, Charlie is basically fickle, rebellious, remorseful, submissive, honest, courageous, and loyal all at the same time. I think that through all of his experiences he has developed an air of complexity that his character was missing near the beginning of the novel. This development is probably going to be incredibly important in the final section of the book, when I assume that everything will fall together as a result of Charlie’s newly-explored personalities.
    Back to the drug abuse. I have to agree with Emily on this topic, for even though drugs are most definitely not the way to have fun or to escape pain, I feel like his usage of them shows that he has found a group of friends who are willing to share their knowledge with him in order to allow him to live an easier and hopefully happier life. The number of other things that they have introduced him to (including The Rocky Horror Picture Show, music, the social scene, etc.) have allowed him to develop as a person and discover a world beyond that which he had known as a wallflower. Though drugs are probably not the best habit to pick up from your friends, I feel like Chbosky uses them to display both his integration into the lives of others as well as represent the pain he still feels over his mysterious past. At the end of the section, after being shunned by his friends, Charlie writes, “I’ve been smoking it all the time since” (139), referring to the pot he bought in order to feel closer to his friends and their world. This statement also goes to show that as his hardships increased, so did his drug use.

  18. sarahwallin12

    I agree with Radhika on this, I think that in this section, Charlie has grown quite a bit, whether or not it’s in a socially acceptable way, is questionable, but he has matured. In a way, I feel as those all his high school years will be looked back on eventually as some sort of experiment. He had his first time experimenting with drugs, friendships, relationships, and it’s almost as if this is just his practice round. His relationship with Mary Elisabeth taught him that he needed to have a voice, a say, in what he wants from relationships, and from people in general. I think that also via his new friends, he has gained a wider perspective on what he has been taught is right, which allows him to connect better with his sister, his brother, and his aunt. Charlie accompanying his sister to the abortion clinic demonstrated a great deal of acceptance and compassion, that I don’t think that Charlie would have had those characteristics if it weren’t for his past mistakes, and his new friends.
    The topic of drug abuse is interesting in this novel, because, besides the fact that Charlie vows never to do LSD again, it never makes any sort of effort to demonstrate that drugs are bad. This shows that Chbosky was more focused on the character development of Charlie to worry about adding in any ‘above the influence’ mantras, and that he probably thinks that the idea of substance abuse adds to Charlie’s depth as a character. I would agree with this statement, because I think the whole concept of the novel is about the outsiders, and how they feel playing by the rules won’t get them anywhere, and that they have nothing to lose. The fact that they draw Charlie in, and take him under their wing by expanding his knowledge of the world, and accepting him for who he is, overshadows the fact that they may be viewed as the ‘bad crowd’ I believe.

  19. mckennamurray

    I would give “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, by Stephen Chbosky, an 8 out of 10. In the beginning I thought that the story would be generic where Charlie, the quiet misfit, would find his true self and become the popular boy. Soon after starting the book though, I was surprised by how original the storyline is and how different it is from any other novel.

    Part of the reason the book is so unforgettable is Charlie. He is a true mystery and you can never predict what he will do or say next. Charlie sees everything for what it truly is which is refreshing for readers and his thoughtful actions make every reader want to have a friend like him. The many ups and downs of Charlie’s life are relatable to virtually every reader because they include such things as drugs, love, sex, friends, school, family and many other topics that everybody has gone through. Even adults can relate back to when they were in high school and younger children can look at what lies ahead for them.

    Another reason “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is such a memorable book is how close it is to reality. Some authors may be scared to write about the drug and alcohol abuse found in this book, but the truth of which Chbosky writes about draws readers even closer to the novel. Chbosky does not try to sugar coat anything but, like Charlie, he tells things how they truly are. And, rather than trying to teach readers the stereotypical lesson of “Don’t do drugs”, Chbosky lets the readers develop their own views on the effects that drugs and alcohol have on one’s life. By telling the truth about life in high school and sticking more to reality than fiction, Chbosky pulls readers into the book.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” because it was refreshing, relatable, and very real.

    -Mckenna Murray

  20. I agree with Mckenna that “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was refreshing, relatable, and real. I enjoyed reading it, but most of the novel lacked impact. That is, until the last letter and epilogue. Charlie’s whole life story comes crashing down in this part of the book. I was devastated by the realization that Aunt Helen had sexually abused Charlie. The violent chain of abuse that Charlie is now linked to is depressing and shocking. His family members’ reactions to it was especially heart wrenching. It makes me wonder how I would react if I learned that one of my relatives had sexually abused one of my siblings. I would be furious, to say the least.
    Another thing that fascinated me in this section was when Sam found out that her boyfriend had been cheating on her with multiple women. This reminded me of the quote “we accept the love we think we deserve” once again. The cheating bothered me, but I also felt slightly triumphant and I, too, expected Charlie to ask Sam out. The book never really finishes the spark between Charlie and Sam. I do hope they get together and live happily ever after.
    Another thing that was never really answered was what the perks of being a wallflower are. Probably the fact that Charlie gets together with Sam, but other than that no obvious perks stand out to me. It seems that Charlie is in a worse state than where he started off….
    Nevertheless, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was a meaningful read and was well worth the time. I enjoyed reading it and would probably read Steven Chbosky’s future novels.
    All for now,
    Casey

  21. Emily Elott

    I give Perks of Being a Wallflower 9 out of 10 stars.
    The themes in this novel have universal implications for high schoolers everywhere. Perks of Being a Wallflower takes on difficult topics such as drug abuse, sex, depression, and high school life itself. Many books that try to do this are overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of such issues, but Perks of Being a Wallflower does not read like a public service announcement. It is a deep, rewarding book that answers questions on adolescents’ minds about belonging and participating, two themes that resonate with young, impressionable minds. But though the themes of this novel affects readers, the true impact of the novel is found in the meaningful, believable characters.
    Chbosky finds his rhythm and place in the novel with his characters. The power of Perks of Being a Wallflower is in Charlie, Sam, Patrick, Mary Elizabeth, Brad, Charlie’s sister, etc. Chbosky accurately depicts the lives of high school students and also gives them dimension. No character is perfect, and many in the novel are tainted with demons. Readers are able to understand Charlie because he struggles with his introversion. They can empathize with Charlie when he has no where to sit on the first day of school, and his one friend from middle school ignores him. They can understand the temptation that drugs present throughout the novel, but also realize that Charlie’s drug abuse is a mistake. Readers feel for Patrick’s trials and tribulations as he reaches peace with his sexuality. And, of course, they are able to cheer for the exposition of Sam and Charlie as a couple.
    Perks of Being a Wallflower is not a novel that writes down to teens. Rather, it treats teenagers like they are adults, adults that are able to cope with the difficulties and imperfections of the “real” world. The novel accepts that teenagers are no longer children, though they aren’t quite adults. It recognizes that adolescents are ready to read the truth, even if it is shocking or horrible. Charlie is not afraid to tell the truth. He lays bare for readers all the events of his freshman year with no shame, which makes for a poignant and impactful novel. Charlie knows that he is not perfect. He also knows that the people around him are not perfect. And he knows that the people reading his letters aren’t perfect either, which is why Perks of Being a Wallflower earns 9 out of 10 stars.

  22. Sarah

    I’d I were to give ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ a rating, I would give it a 9/10, because I love the plot and the style of the novel, but after all the positive reviews surrounding it, I was left a little bit underwhelmed. The way the author chose to style the story, in letters instead of classic novel form, gave the book an air of simplicity, and it showed how Charlie tends to trust everyone, even people he’s never met. I almost wish I could know the story behind the person he’s writing to, or who it is, but I’m not sure it would have quite the same effect if it was revealed. ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is a touching story that I think relates to all teenagers, as everyone feels as though it would be easier to be a wallflower at some time.
    Because this book is so popular, and has been made into a movie, and is quoted constantly, expected to be blown away, and to break down in tears at the end. However, with all the build up it left me wanting more. Although it didn’t cause me to break down in tears, it was one of the most powerful books that I’ve read, and one of those where you just sit there, speechless, for a few minutes after reading it, just thinking about it. That is why I think that this novel deserves a 9/10, and I believe that this should be a required school read, because it relates so well to all teens, ad teaches them about the value of standing out and finding things that are important to you and valuing them.

  23. Unfortunately, I don’t see why The Perks of Being a Wallflower is so acclaimed. Yes, I enjoyed the writing style. It was raw and real, revealing yet confusing at the same time, but all in a good way. I loved the perspective of an awkward kid, and I think Chbosky did a great job of capturing Charlie’s lost-puppy-dog personality. However, I don’t like the “themes” within the book. In fact, I only saw one theme throughout the whole book: do drugs and follow what your friends do and you’ll be popular. I think Chbosky was trying to make the point that you don’t have to be the typical rich, snooty, popular kid to be happy and that being original and unique is what matters. However, all of Charlie’s friends follow this same mold of defying authority and doing drugs and it bothered me a lot as I was reading.

    Overall, I give the book a 6.5/10. I wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t that great either.

  24. I give “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” 8 out of 10 stars.
    I loved how the novel was full of characters dealing with perfectly realistic issues. Unlike some other books and most TV shows or movies, Chbosky chooses not to end with a happy ending. Sam and Charlie never quite start a real relationship, Charlie is forced to begin dealing with his Aunt Helen again, and Charlie ended his memoir with the knowledge that his friends were going to leave once again and he would be left to fend for himself in high school. However, that is not to say that the characters failed to find their own way through their issues. Though it may not have been in the most perfect or unquestionable ways, I was touched by the way that each and every character grew as a person as they overcame their struggles.

    By telling the story through Charlie’s perspective, Chbosky displayed the world through a different lens, showing the good in each person and the incredible strength that one can possess even in the face of uncontrollable tragedies. So many characters in the novel experienced unmentionable and often hidden hardships that it is incredible that they were able to keep up external appearances. The best part about Charlie is that he was able to see beyond these appearances and learn to accept the baggage that people inevitably have.

    However, like Casey said, I found the majority of this book to lack much action. For the first half or so of the novel, it read a bit like a teenager’s diary, talking about making friends and familial issues and the hardships of high school. Though Charlie’s voice is undeniably unique, I didn’t quite experience the emotions of the novel until the very end, when it is revealed that Charlie was sexually abused by his aunt. Until that point, the book seemed to be just a number of letters written about a shy kid’s experience in school.

    “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” left many unanswered questions by the end of the novel, and while in some ways this was refreshing, I would have liked to at least know who Charlie was writing to. That was the part about the novel that irked me the most. However, apart from that, I would recommend this book to any teenagers or adults due to its lovable characters and overall ability to relate to one’s everyday life. Charlie’s lesson of finding the good and accepting the bad in everyone should be cherished by all.

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