The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky captures the life of the protagonist Charlie in a series of diaries written to an anonymous friend. The novel explores many of the issues teenagers face as they progress through the freshman year of high school. Charlie struggles to find his identity as he first begins to experience relationship problems, peer influences and communal drug use.
Throughout the stages of Charlie’s adolescence, his reckless decisions and lack of knowledge towards society leads to inappropriate behaviors and undesirable outcomes; however these experiences mature him and ultimately allows him to discover his true self through the difficult progression towards adulthood. One of the greatest progressions Charlie takes towards adulthood is when he discovers himself in an unanticipated relationship with Mary Elizabeth. Although Charlie does not show any true affection for her, anxiety takes over him when she asks him out to a dance; thus begins their relationship.
Soon, Charlie begins to despise how one-sided the relationship had become and “that’s when chose to be honest. By the time had knelt down in front of Sam and kissed her, the silence was unbearable” (Chbosky 135). When Charlie finally decides to confess his true feelings, he chooses the wrong approach which demonstrates his character to be ignorant and rash. (Charlie’s actions demonstrate complete and utter betrayal towards Mary Elizabeth and ) although they reflect his true feelings, his friends show great disapproval towards him (alienate him as Patrick warns Charlie to stay away for a while.
This becomes one of the most critical events (contributing to the development of Charlie’s character and personality changes from adolescence to adultery, allowing him to feel more passionate about romance. ) “That’s when realized that really loved ” (200); justifies that he finally understands the necessity of pursuing his true love instead of surrendering it to his insecurities, which ultimately shapes who Charlie becomes in the end of the novel. proves Charlie to be more matured in the end of the novel. )
Charlie exemplifies a typical troubled teenage struggling to fit into society. Because Charlie did not have any real friends, his misconception of true friendship forces him to become extremely vulnerable to peer influences. “I ate the brownie, and it tasted a little weird, but it was still a brownie, so I still liked it. But this was not an ordinary brownie. Since you are older, I think you know what kind of brownie it was”(35).
His lack of knowledge is portrayed perfected as he recklessly accepts the brownie without any consideration of what may be in it. Although Charlie only meets Bob for the first time, he places complete trust in him, mainly because Charlie has been living such a passive life that his eagerness to meet new friends completely overwhelms him. As the story progresses however, Charlie’s letters catalog the changes he undergoes as he becomes less introverted. Charlie starts to become outgoing, “participated” more often and progressive begins to live an active life.
Furthermore, the friends who Charlie meets become an essential part of his life as they help him mature and advance through his stages of life. The last words of his diary states: “I just don’t want you to worry about me, or think that you’ve met me, or waste your time anymore. ” Symbolically, Charlie no longer needs the diary as his only way of communication as he discovers himself and moves on to the next stage of adulthood. Lastly, the book explores a complicated yet interesting relationship between Charlie and Aunt Helen.
Throughout the entire novel, Charlie remembers Aunt Helen as his “favorite person in the whole world” (26), however Charlie is unaware of certain distressing memories that his consciousness can not confront. Charles subconsciously forces himself to ‘love’ Aunt Helen in order to prevent the memories from occurring in his head. Charlie only remembers that they were close and cared deeply for one another; Aunt Helen was the only one in their family who loved him. However, when Sam begins to caress Charlie, he suddenly reminisces from his subconscious flashbacks of Aunt Helen and the inappropriate actions she takes.
Considering that Charlie was young, his vague understandings may have mistaken Aunt Helen’s sexual advances as ‘love’ and thus throughout the novel, Charlie confuses himself between true love and sex. As evident with his relationship with Mary Elizabeth, as Charlie’s main motivation is driven by lust whereas the person he loves is Sam. “She smiled and kissed cheek, and it was like for a moment, the bad part of last night disappeared” (204). Sam’s actions allows Charlie to once again repress the memories, because his love for Sam greatly outweighs his love for Aunt Helen.
Evidently, Sam is the only person who can truly make Charlie happy and thus she is the only one capable of guiding Charlie through his memories and finding his true self. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky captures the life of the protagonist Charlie in a series of diaries written to an anonymous friend. The novel explores many of the issues teenagers face as they progress through the freshman year of high school. Charlie struggles to find his identity as he first begins to experience relationship problems, peer influences and communal drug use.
Throughout the stages of Charlie’s adolescence, his reckless decisions and lack of knowledge towards society leads to inappropriate behaviors and undesirable outcomes; however these experiences mature him and ultimately allows him to discover his true self through the difficult progression towards adulthood. During Charlie’s journey to adulthood and perseverance to find his identity, he pulls himself from a depressed teenager, prone to isolation and alienation through the difficulties to progression towards adulthood, allowing him to discover his true self. Along the way, Charlie finds the love of his life and friends who are to die for.