The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Novel)

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a novel written by Stephen Chbosky and released in 1999. The book consists of single letters the main character, Charlie, writes to an anonym "friend". Charlie is a "Wallflower". He is quiet, an outsider in High School and he he has a passion for literature. He has problems to find a place to be in his family, because of always staying in the shadow of his succesfull big brother. Then he gets in contact with Patrick, his stepsister Sam and their group of friends. He goes out with them and gets to know many interesting stories he has to tell his "friend" about. But weighter his crush on Sam or his worries about the long-therm effects of taking LSD can make him forget his familys`problems and his fault for the death of his beloved aunt Helen. And there is still a rest of grief in his mind about his aunt and his best friend Michael, who commited suicide a year ago. Based on the book there was made a film in 2012.

Background and Publication[1][change | change source]

In the book Charlie writes that he got some books from his teacher Bill. One of these books is the book "The Cather in the rye" from J. D. Salinger which Chbosky says it was an inspiration from him to write "The Perks of Being a Wallflower". Also some music titles had inspired him for example "Asleep" from "The Smiths".

Stephen Chbosky also was born in Pittsburgh where "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" plays. Maybe he experienced some of the things from which Charlie tells us.

The book was published on the 1 February 1999 by Pocket Books and was transleted and solt in 13 languages in 16 countries all over the world.[1]

Plot[change | change source]

p. 1-21[change | change source]

Charlie writes letters anonymously, he changes all the names, that way the reader won't find out who he is. And all of them are send to someone because he wants for someone to listen and understand him. He explains his life through these letters. Firstly, he talks about his friend Michael who killed himself. Charlie does not understand why he did it, but he is really emotional because of it. Charlie is told that one of the reasons why he killed himself is because of “problems at home”. Charlie starts to ask himself if he is in a similar position, then he introduces his family members and relationship with them. He mentions his aunt Helen who was his favorite person, however she died. Charlie is about to start high school, and he is nervous about it. He doesn't like high school and finds it completely different from middle school. He realizes that everybody has changed and they behave differently with him. He feels lonely and wants to have friends. He has a good relationship with his teacher, who believes that he has a great skill at reading and understanding language. Charlie talks about his sister and her boyfriend, who fight a lot. He one time catches them having sex, but he is too innocent to understand.

p. 21-38

Charlie goes to the football game, that he used to go to with his dead friend Michael. There he meets Patrick and Sam for the first time. Patrick and Sam are step siblings and Charlie develops a crush on Sam, but Sam has no interest in Charlie. After thinking a lot about girls and couples he goes to Bill and tells him what is bothering him, his sister`s boyfriend had hit her. As the secret gets revealed, the dad does not allow her to see him and she gets mad with Charlie. At that moment, Charlie has a flashback of his past, in which a girl is raped by a guy in his room in front of him. Charlie goes to a party with his new friends, Sam and Patrick, where he gets stoned for the first time. He then tells Sam, how his only friend Michael died. That night he was called by everyone a Wallflower.

p. 40-65[change | change source]

Charlie talks for the first time about Mary Elisabeth. He then explains Patrick and Brads complete story, of how they met and how Brad went through a very rough phase at the beginning of their relationship. He talks about his possibilities for jobs in the future and how he is momentarily working for Mary Elisabeth writing a newspaper of a play, Sam and Patrick play in. Charlie recalls memories with Michael, his best friend who killed himself and Charlie never has known why. Charlie and his friends play a secret Santa together, where Charlie reads a poem ,Michael gave to him ,out loud ,however he does not know it was written by Michael.

p. 65-84[change | change source]

Sam and Patrick are visiting the Grand Canyon, so Charlie is alone. Soon it is Christmas and Charlies birthday. He hates it, because it is the day where his aunt Helen died, so it is a hard time for him. Charlie feels very guilty for her death, because she died in a car accident while buying him a birthday present. For Christmas, Charlie goes with his family to the family of his dad. In his old room, he thinks a lot about his family and about Helen. His mother is very worried about him, because after the death of Helen he had to go to the hospital and had to talk with a doctor. Charlie still has sometimes panic attacks when he thinks too much about it. After visiting Helens grave, he feels better but is still missing her. When Charlie drives to a New Year´s Eve party he finally sees Sam and Patrick again.

p. 86-105[change | change source]

Charlie writes letters to a unknown people. He told about his family and about his past. Charlie is very happy, because the conversation with his psychiatrist do him very happy. Charlie talk with his friends about his psychiatrist, the Beatles and any more. Charlie writes about a awkward situation. He got an erection in the class and had to go to the blackboard. He was only wearing a swimsuit so you could see his erection. Charlie also asked a girl for a date, but she does not want to answer him and be alone. Then he went with another girl to the prom, which then ran away. When came home, he suddenly heard his sister crying again because she was pregnant.

p. 106-119[change | change source]

Charlie asked his dad for car,because he was going to have an another date with Mary Elisabeth. That night, dad came to his room and talked about sex to Charlie. Then they went to the record store and had first sex there. Since they were together, Mary Elisabeth was keeping to call Charlie everyday. Charlie's parents invited Sam and Patrick for a dinner, Mary Elisabeth asked to join them. After that, Charlie came to find his sister and brother to ask, how to deal with Mary Elisabeth. Next day in school, Mary Elisabeth gave Charlie a book, but he returned it to the book store. Then he regretted and get it back and brought Mary Elisabeth a gift. On Friday, they had a party in Craig's house and they played "Truth or Dare", Charlie chose a dare and had to kiss the most beautiful girl in the room. So he kissed Sam, and after that the relationship between he and Mary was broken.

p. 122-137

Charlie is lonely without his friends. He is trying to survive the grey days with analysing his environment, especially the people`s behaviour. He spends his time at the local mall alone, sometimes with the english teacher, Bob, and his books. Once he met with Susan,he asked her about the dead friend of them. "Do you ever miss him ?". The girl just bat her eyelids and stayed quiet. Susan`s company said something rude behind Charlie`s back. Brad appears at school, but he has changed a lot. Brad wounded Patric`s hearth with words, like "faggot" at the cafeteria. During this tough period, Charlie stands on Patric`s side, he even fought for him . At a Saturday morning, Charlie got a phone call from Patric, which made his day. Since then, they spend days together, Charlie means a lot to Patric. Charlie also apologised to Mary Elisabeth at the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Mary Elisabeth found a new boy, Patric decided to quit playing Frank `N`Further.

p. 137-155[change | change source]

Patrick must stand a bad phase. Charlie tries to help him to go through it and Patrick takes him to places where gay men meet anonym. All seniors like Patrick, Sam and his sister make plan for their future after graduating. Patrick will visit college in Washington, Sam will start at Penn State. Patrick plays the Frank 'N Further one last time. Charlie´s sister watches the show with her boyfriend. Mary Elisabeth kisses Peter at Craig´s Party and Charlie is happy for them. Bill invites Charlie to his house to spend and afternoon with him and his girlfriend. Sam and Craig broke up because he cheated her ever since. Bill thanks Charlies because it was a honor for him to teach him. Charlie is to Bill one of the most gifted people he ever met.

Author[change | change source]

Stephen Chbosky (born January 25,1970 in Pittsburgh) is an american novelist, film director and screenwriter. He is known for writing "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", which is a New-York-Times Bestseller. Chbosky is also known for writing and directing the movie version with Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. He wrote the screenplay for "Rent" and the live action adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" of 2017. Stephen Chbosky directed the drama "Wonder" aswell.

Themes[change | change source]

Coming of age[change | change source]

While most parts of the book, Charlie is talking about the struggles of coming of age. His everyday problems can be divided into three sectors. When describing his “friend”, he complains the “fears of adulthood”. Stephen Chbosky summarises this aspect with the well-fitting quote “It´s much easier not to know things sometimes.”.[2] Charlie, the “wallflower” isn´t ready to take the responsibility for his own life. High school, love and parties are overstraining him. “People who try to control situations all the time are afraid that if they don´t, nothing will work out the way they want.” [2] is Charlie´s way to accept, that life happens the way it does and that he must stand it.

Main quote of the second part of coming of age, “What you need in life”, is “We accept the love we deserve.”.[2] Bill teaches Charlie that id needs more then people who give you love. You must give back. You must love yourself. You must trust others. You can´t love alone. Charlie is also wishing for a person to keep contact “I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands.”.[2] By all the mess he had to stand, he tries not to loose his good mind about community.

Last main part of growing up is “becoming individual”. Sam, and so Charlie, understand that being an adult means to be unique. “I´m going to do what I want to do. I´m going to be who I really am. And I´m going to figure out what that is.”.[2] That´s the way Sam declares her readiness. But adolescence also is about doubting, “Just tell me how to be different in a way that makes sense.”.[2] The book conveys an important advice to pass adolescence: Just be yourself, find out who you are, leave your past far behind, but never forget where you started.

Music[change | change source]

Music is a very important part of Charlie´s life. Mostly, he listens to music in the car, either on the radio or from one of his mix tapes. These mix tapes are pretty special, because they are made by a person with their personal and favorite songs. Charlie thinks that when you know the taste of music of a person, then you already know them, because music says a lot about someone. Because of the personality, mix tapes are often used as a present. With music, Charlie connects a lot of memories, from car rides, high school dances, theatres or parties. On the mix tape of his sister is Charlie´s favorite song, called „Asleep“. He really loves this song and whenever he fells sad or lonely, Charlie listens to it.

Literature[change | change source]

During the novel´s Story, many books from other authors are mentioned. Charlies´ English teacher Bill can see, that he has great skill in reading and understanding language, so he begins giving Charlie extra books to read and extra work like writing essays.

Those books are:

Charlie likes all the books except "Naked Lunch" because he does not understand it.

All the books are written during 1911 and 1960

Charlie slowly starts to see similarities in the books.


Charlie went to the high school football game. He went to the games sometimes, if the games were popular and sometimes Susan and Micheal were there, but this time, Micheal is gone and Susan hangs around different boys, also he went alone. He knew Patrick in the football game. He loves the “Football game”, then he can analyse play-by-play.  

Mental Illnesses[change | change source]

Although its not stated in the novel, Charlie is believed to have several mental illnesses ,these include: Aspergers ,PTSD (post-traumatic-stress disorder), occasional depression and perhaps drug(cannabis)-induced psychosis and/or schizophrenia. Before the end of the novel Charlies state of mental health deteriorates ,because of his emerging PTSD (from the death of aunt Helen) and perhaps psychosis and/or schizophrenia.As a response he goes into an Asylum, from which he finally recovers. His friend killed himself pre-novel and appeared to have suffered from depression and killed himself in his parents home. There are several more people who appear to have depression and/or bipolar-disorder but not of significant magnitude for the story.

Suicide[change | change source]

Some of teenagers kill themselves because they are not good at communicating, and they feel all alone. Michael who was Charlie's old friend killed himself, nobody knows the exact reason why he made suicide. Counselor guessed that he might have "problem at home" but nobody to talk to, so he felt despair and lonely. Someone's suicide will also affect people around him. Michael's suicide affected the whole school, Charlie and Susan. That made the students and teachers pay more attention suicide. Charlie felt upset and cried for a long time. Susan used to be Michael's girlfriend, but after he died, she won't stop her life for him. Some teenagers have the idea of suicide. Bridget and Carl are students from the high school, and they used to have the idea that they wanted to do the suicide just because of some small things.

High school in the US[change | change source]

This paragraph is about the high school in the US from the book the perks of being a wallflower. But what do the students think about the school or what do the schools in the US pay attention to? The school in the US tries to offer social activities to the students so that they do not become criminals. However, the students are partly over strained. The school in the US tries that the students are very educated when they leave the school.

LGBTQI[change | change source]

This theme appears often in the book, as one of the main characters, Patrick, is homosexual. Patrick is in a relationship with Brad, they are two very different people with very different lives. Brad is one of the most popular boys in school and is dating a girl to cover up his sexuality because he is ashamed of people knowing. Patrick is known as "nothing" in school and is bullied often, however that doesn't disturb him at all. In their relationship they go through pain, fear, love, but mostly sorrow. Their whole relationship is told by Charlie's perspective. He explains the phases Patrick goes through and stories he is told throughout their affair. Brad at the beginning had to take drugs and alcohol every time they got together, so that he had something to blame for the next day. Patrick was always very upset about this, however when it finally stopped he wasn't at all bothered that Brad wanted to keep it a secret, as he had deep feelings for him. Things start becoming more complicated when Brad's dad walks in on them. Brad is beat up terribly by his father, which caused him not to come to school for a week and ignore Patrick completely. When Brad comes back to school he calls Patrick " faggot" in the cafeteria, infront of the whole school. This provokes a huge fight, including Brad's friends and Charlie who ends the fight. Brad and Patrick never get back together.

Family Relationships[change | change source]

Charlie´s family consists of both of his parents, mom and dad, an older brother who's in college and an older sister who's a senior in high school. The family member Charlie is closest with is his sister´s mom: aunt Helen. Unfortunately, she died in a car accident on his seventh birthday. Often, Charlie gets flashbacks about her, but he wouldn't understand why it happened. He later realizes after being in the hospital cause of a mental breakdown, that his aunt Helen used to sexually abuse of him. Charlie´s mom is always home, and does not work. according to Charlie, she is quiet and does not talk much, but when she does everybody listens to her. His dad is considered an honest man by Charlie, he is a hard working man and a good husband. Since his brother is in college, he loses connection with him, and they don't talk much after that. However Charlie and his brother were never close in that sense. Charlie´s relationship with his sister gets worse when he sees her boyfriend hit her. Eventually, Charlie discovers that his sister is pregnant, and he agrees to bring her to an abortion clinic and keep it a secret. She then breaks up with her boyfriend and the relationship between Charlie and her improves. Everybody in Charlie´s family is busy and nobody ever has time for him. For that same reason, Charlie feels lonely and sometimes even depressed.

Drugs[change | change source]

In the book "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" Charlie makes a few times experiences on parties under the influences of drugs.

Movie Adaption[change | change source]

The book was adapted into a movie in 2012, having Stephen Chbosky direct it and starring Logan Lerman as Charlie, Emma Watson as Sam and Ezra Miller as Patrick. Although the plot of the movie shows many similarities to the movie, it has some substantial differences, including the fact that Charlie decides to help Sam at school, by giving her extra tuition and that Charlies PTSD gets triggered when Sam tries to sleep with him and he remembers Aunt Helen, who sexually abused him when he was young.

Film scene "The Perks of Being a Wallflower".jpg

The movie recieved many positive reviews following its first appearence in theatres, including 85% positive feedback on the website Rotten Tomatoes.

How do I include references?[change | change source]

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References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Home". Perk Of Being A Wallflower. 2014-04-15. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Wikiquote". Retrieved 2019-02-16.