Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The complexities of growing up can be overwhelming, but one must overcome the realities of the wild and poignant roller coaster of youth in order to live a sensible and productive life. The Perks of Being a Wallflower begins as the protagonist Charlie, starting his first year of high school, deals with the suicide of his single close friend named Michael and the lingering feeling of guilt over the death of his aunt. Prone to depression, introverted, and on the fringe of trouble in many aspects of life, Charlie is a wallflower who, with the help of his English teacher and two friends Sam and Patrick, comes to terms with life and learns to interact.
It is difficult to come out of one’s shell and accept the reality that one has recently lost two very important people. As an entering freshman, Charlie lives a remarkably passive existence primarily due to the loss of his favorite aunt and best friend Michael. This can be seen as Charlie expresses his thoughts and feelings toward people that revolve around him:
I look at people holding hands in the hallways, and I try to think about how it all works. At the school dances, I sit in the background, and I tap my toe, and I wonder how many couples will dance to “their song.” In the hallways, I see the girls wearing the guys’ jackets, and I think about the idea of property. And I wonder if anyone is really happy. I hope they are. I really hope they are. (23).
As the quote indicates, Charlie “uses thought to not participate in life.” Instead of being an active participant in life, Charlie creates a protective wall of timidity and despair, which prevents him from interacting with peers.
An English teacher named Bill recognizes Charlie’s wisdom and intuition, and assigns books to the troubled teen for stimulation beyond the classroom. Bill befriends Charlie and assists the boy throughout the story. One day, as Bill spots Charlie looking at other students during class, he calls Charlie to his desk and asks him what he was thinking about. After hearing Charlie’s response, Bill encourages his student to redirect his thoughts away from himself and to try to “participate”. Before Charlie leaves, Bill tells him, “Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve” (24). Charlie never forgets these potent words throughout the entire school year. This is when his mind, at first filled with thoughts of hopelessness, slowly begins to grow more optimistic.
Charlie tries his best to “participate” during his days at the high school. Bill’s support encourages Charlie to begin a new life without the weight of a tragic past. Also, Charlie attends school-sponsored social events such as the homecoming football game and dance, and attempts to make new friends. One day, when Charlie attends a football...