Thursday, October 23, 2008

Story Map: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Information Technology High School
English 5/Period 8
Roxanne Benavides

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Characters and Characterization:

Charlie is the protagonist and narrator of the book which is based on letters that he writes. Throughout the book Charlie is seen as a very sensitive and emotional boy. He seems to think and act differently which leads him to an almost lonely life until he meets Patrick and Sam. He is a freshman at his high school and struggles with everyday things. Throughout the book many things happen to him that makes him ponder even more about the way life and people work. After he meets his new friends Patrick and Sam it is clear that he hasn’t had friends in a while and depends on them for any socializing.

As time goes they get closer and they bring him to one of their frequent parties. At his first one he gets high for the first time. As they drive through a tunnel he describes the tranquil and blissful moment as them feeling “infinite”. At that moment Sam and Patrick see him as the genius he is. A majority of the book are his thoughts and feelings about many subjects while he is high.

He is a very innocent and honest kid which would sometimes lead him to trouble. During one of the parties he had to kiss who he thought was the most beautiful girl. Instead of choosing his then girlfriend he chose Sam. That was a big deal and in order to have them fully recover he needed to give the group space. With that there was a period of time where he can’t speak to any of his friends which made him very depressed. His only solace during that time was getting high.

Often instead of doing things he wants to he does things according to whether it will make them happy or not. Sam teaches him that he couldn’t put everyone’s life ahead of his own and that he should do things that he wants instead of only regarding other peoples feelings.

Setting Time: August 25, 1991 to August 23, 1992
Setting Place: School, Charlie’s house, and Bob’s house.

The setting time is important to the book. The youth of the 90’s were different from anybody else. Underground music and experimenting with everything were part of the 90’s. These things get mentioned in many of Charlie’s letters.

Vocabulary & Definition:
Corpulent- large or bulky of body
Jaundice- to distort or prejudice, as by envy or resentment
Adroit- cleverly skillful, resourceful, or ingenious
Affirmation- the assertion that something exists or is true
Instigate- to urge, provoke, or incite to some action or course


The book is made up of letters that Charlie writes describing the everyday events in his life. Charlie starts off in the school and doesn’t seem to have friends. It all starts when he meets Sam and Patrick. After that everything starts to happen. He starts acting and feeling differently about life.

Throughout the book he goes through rough times with his family, especially his sister. Yet through everything he always has the same feeing of love for his family and cares about them. As the book progresses his sister gets into an abusive relationship. Charlie tells his teacher Bill about it since he was only told not to tell his parents. His sister acts like she hates Charlie for a while but then slowly trusts him with the fact that she is secretly dating him. Eventually she gets pregnant and her boyfriend denies that it is his. So to get an abortion she chooses Charlie as the one who is going to go with her. At that moment it is very clear that they love each other despite some of their problems. He often thinks about relationships and love according to what happened to his sister.

I think the change of becoming older is what bothers Charlie. Charlie tends to think a lot which doesn’t let him “participate” in life. He would go to dances but wont dance and instead of taking chances he plays things safe. He writes about random details of his day and always tries to find a purpose for life or the way people act. The ways he writes and asks suggest that he thinks differently than most teenagers his age.

The discovery of his Aunt Helen sexually abusing him when he was younger comes up as the reason for his sometimes melodramatic and sensitive ways. Yet even after figuring out what happened he still thinks positive about other people and he stays sensitive. He still loves his Aunt Helen just like he did before.

Exposition- In the beginning of the book Charlie is introduced as a freshman starting out high school with no friends. After someone picks on him he attacks them and wins the fight but then cries about it after. After that he has a reputation as the weird kid. Charlie thinks a lot about his Aunt Helen who passed away on his birthday when he was younger. It is at a football game that he attended alone that he went up to Patrick, a kid in his shop class and spoke to him. He was introduced to Sam who immediately thought he was beautiful. They hung out after thus starting a great friendship.

Rising Action: So as time goes by Sam, Patrick, and Charlie all hang out to take smokes outside and go to school regularly. Charlie was taken to Sam and Patrick’s friend Bob’s house for a party. Bob gave Charlie brownies to eat which made him high. As he was walking around he opened a door to find Patrick and Brad, the school’s quarterback kissing. He was told to keep it a secret and of course he said he would. Later on in the basement everyone at the party toasted to Charlie. At that moment Charlie felt “infinite”. Eventually at a Christmas he opens up and gives everyone gifts even though they bought him nothing. Seeing Charlie differently causes a girl named Mary Elizabeth to ask him out. Charlie then starts going out with her ever though he doesn’t really like her that way and finds her slightly overwhelming. At a party he is dared to kiss who he thinks is the most beautiful girl in the circle but then he chooses Sam. That causes a ruckus with the group and Charlie is told he should stay clear of everyone until everything clears down.

Climax: Since Charlie can’t hang out with the group anymore he gets very lonely and smokes weed all the time. He sometimes cuts school and gets very depressed. In school Patrick gets called a fag by Brad and Patrick gets into a fight with Brad and his friends. When Charlie defends Patrick he gets sends to inhouse suspension. When he leaves suspension he finds Sam waiting for him and everything between them is alright. Since Patrick and Sam are seniors they will be going away to college soon. Sam, whose college is making her go away for the summer, invites Charlie to her room to help her pack. Sam questions Charlie for not trying to make a move on her. He replies saying that he thought she wouldn’t like it. Sam tells him to stop worrying about such things and to just do what he feels like doing. Sam and Charlie then kiss and fool around but when Sam touches Charlie in his…area. He freaks out and starts to cry. The next day after Sam leaves he still feels horrible and has dreams about his Aunt Helen doing to him what Sam was doing.

Falling Action: Charlie is found in a trance at his house watching a blank screen. He is sent to a psychiatric hospital where he realizes that he wasn’t just dreaming and that his Aunt Helen did touch him that way when he was younger. He also realized that it happened every Saturday that she babysat. All his friends and family either visited him or wrote him a letter. Things like that made him feel better.

Conclusion: In the end Charlie is released from the hospital. He is in terms with everything and doesn’t hold any grudges about his Aunt. Sam, Patrick, and his sister are off to college and he wishes them the best. His first day of sophomore year is the next day and he isn’t afraid of it. He also wants the reader to know that even if he won’t be writing any more letters that he will be happy so we shouldn’t worry about him.

Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve.” Page 24.

I believe this quote means that the lesser you think of yourself, the more you will settle for a love that is not as good as it should be. I agree with this quote completely. Many people have low self-esteem without any good cause. Those types of people will always choose a person who is what they think to be their equal. The problem is because of the low standards they have of themselves the person they choose to be with whether for love or friendship won’t treat them properly. When you settle for low you can only get low treatment in return. This is the reason of Charlie’s sister sticking with her scum boyfriend. She might think of herself as lowly and undeserving so she chose a guy who appears sensitive at first but is a terrible boyfriend to her. To his sister they might seem equal but in reality she deserves better.

“First, I am very fascinated by how everyone loves each other, but no one really likes each other.” Page 59.

In the book Charlie’s family is very important to him as family usually is for everyone. In Charlie’s family there are many problems and situations. His grandfather was beat his mother and his aunt Helen when they were younger because of things like bad grades. Yet after he did that they never got those types of grades again. To his grandfather it was better to have his children have a great future than to have them love him. Charlie’s mother pursued a better life but her sister just got into constant abusive relationships. That was probably the cause of her abusing Charlie. When Charlie found out he held no harsh feelings for her still loved for simply buying him two presents for his birthday. When Charlie wonders about his older sister and brother he speaks only well about them and hopes that they love life as much as he wants them too. Many families are odd like his. No matter what happens or how much it seems that they don’t like each other, when things get hard they always remain there for support.


Man vs. Self: Charlie deals with the same growing pains as every other teenager his age. His biggest problem is himself. Charlie acts according to whether the other person would or would not like his actions. By giving into the temporary desires of his friends he ends up hurting them in a worse way. When Patrick was depressed about Brad he kissed Charlie a lot. Charlie let him kiss him because he just wanted to be a good friend but he wasn’t being a good friend. Patrick was hurting himself by doing this and Charlie was also hurting him by not being honest with him. Another example is that fact that he didn’t really like Mary Elizabeth the same way that she liked him but because he didn’t want to hurt her he stayed with her. He was also told to ask her questions and to do a lot of listening with her which he later finds out to be false because Mary Elizabeth wanted a guy who could challenge her. Also he never tried to get further with Sam even though he loved her. If he would’ve preceded her like he wanted to he would’ve made himself and Sam happier. In the end his obedient attitude changes and he becomes stronger. He starts his sophomore year anew and from the looks of his attitude he will start living for himself and not anyone else.

Two Themes:

Growth: In the basis of a year Charlie goes from young boy to very experienced teenager. After everything Charlie goes through he changes a lot and seemingly grows wiser. I believe the experience has made him a better person. Even if he still has many questions about life he seems to be wise enough to make the right decisions. In the beginning of the book Charlie has problems with going for what he wants but he overcomes them and adapts in a positive way. Maybe even a more courageous way. Charlie didn’t even realize that he was abused as a child until what happened with him and Sam. Once he realized this he was able to put things into place and not have to feel pain anymore. The fact that he still loves his Aunt shows a large sense of love and maturity in Charlie.

Happiness: All over the book Charlie mentions happiness for himself, his loved ones, and even to the reader. Charlie is a compassionate individual. He’s the type of person who constantly puts other people’s happiness ahead of his own. He does this to a negative and sometimes ends up putting himself down. A lot of his thoughts revolve around happiness and tranquility. He looks at his youth and children around him with a sort of envy. As Charlie gets older his life gets more complicated. When he looks at children he wonders about the problems they will face when they get older. He thinks about whether or not they hit their girlfriends or if they are going to get pregnant. He is jealous of the fact that for now they don’t have to worry about things like that because just being with their temporary friends and having a good time is all that they need to be happy. In the end of the book Charlie isn’t afraid for the new school year because he knows that no matter what he will pursue and gain his happiness.

Literary Elements:

Imagery: At Bob’s parties Charlie and his friends get high from different drugs. When Charlie is high he sees amazing, funny, and sometimes weird things. The things he sees also affect the way he thinks. He finds answers to his questions in the images frequently. On the first and last time trying LSD Charlie spoke to Mark, another person at the party and they both saw the sky differently.

“We were in this giant dome like a glass snowball, and Mark said that the amazing white stars were really only holes in the black glass of the dome, and when you went to Heaven, the glass broke away, and there was nothing but a whole sheet of star white, which is brighter than anything but doesn’t hurt your eyes.”(P.95) When they say how big this so called dome was they felt small and insignificant.

Metaphor: Throughout the book the same metaphor was written. The first time it was used Sam, Patrick, and Charlie were just sitting in the car peacefully listening to music. There was one song that they all really listened to and felt it. They were all deeply into the music then when the song ended Charlie said, “I am infinite”. (P.33) After that they both gaped at him like that were the greatest thing that has ever been said. For that moment everything was wonderful and that was all they needed. It was also used again (P.39) when Sam, Patrick, and Charlie were simply having a real good time. I think that having a really fun time with just nothing to worry about is what makes Charlie believe he is infinite.

Mood: The mood of the book varies on whatever Charlie is talking about or how he feels that day. The book can go from somber to uplifting in just a couple of pages. Sexual abuse is mentioned in the book to many different characters which affected them all dramatically. Suicide is also a topic mentioned in the book frequently because of his friend Nick and Charlie’s favorite poem, which was rumored to be someone’s suicide note. In the story all the characters who have been affected by some form of pain but all of them recovers from them. By recovering from their incidents they end up wiser and stronger. This makes the mood by the end of the story change to inspirational.

Annotated Bibliography:

Chbosky, Stephen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. New York. Pocket Books, 1999.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a marvelous tale about a boy growing up and going through many things. It is a wonderful coming of age story and shows many of the trauma teenagers must endure while trying to figure their place in the world. Charlie discovers things like drugs, love, and music in this wonderfully written fiction book. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written similarly to The Catcher in The Rye and has the same feeling of becoming the person you are reading about.

1 comment:

Bella Trix said...

Someone copied you word for word on their prezi.

Just in case you wanted to know.