Honors World Lit&Comp.
22 May 2013
I Swear We are Infinite
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, is narrated through the use of letters by the main character, Charlie, to an anonymous reader as an opening for his fears. Charlie’s freshman year of high-school is a life changer. The novel expresses the importance of friendship, with plot points dripping in depravity with underage drinking and drugs; the trauma of a teenage wasteland that also manages to serve as a rite of passage for adolescents in search of individuality and self-definition. Charlie’s friends motivate him to explore a new side of life. He understands that life needs to be lived and not watched. He’s reluctant and unsure of himself and enters the school year with an abundance of struggles and insecurities.
Charlie comes from an ordinary family with a loving mother and father. His older brother is an all-star at football who plays at Penn State. His older sister is a popular senior, who gets all of her attention because she is pretty. Charlie, however, is just Charlie. He begins his freshman year friendless, as a result of his friend’s suicide only a year before. One night at his high school’s football game two seniors, Sam and Patrick, befriend Charlie. “And I remembered that Sam introduced me as her friend to Bob. And I remembered that Patrick had done the same for Brad. And I started to cry” (Chbosky 38). This quote shows that he finally feels accepted by people. Charlie struggles with protecting others’ feelings because he is so loyal. Tom Rath wrote a book called Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without. In his book he makes the point, “that if you ask people why they became homeless, why their marriage failed or why they overeat, they often say it is because of the poor quality, or nonexistence, of friendships. They feel outcast or unloved” (Rath). This ties in perfectly with Charlie and his feelings. Before he met Sam and Patrick he felt alone and depressed. However, due to Charlie’s insecurities and not wanting to lose his new found friends, he began to experiment with drugs and alcohol with them.
Charlie is a very confused boy. He is still trying to understand and cope with the suicide of his best friend, Michael, from the previous year. It was a complete and utter shock to him. Sam and Patrick helped Charlie come out of his comfort zone and to discover what happens in the real world. They did everything together from dances to parties to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Charlie had never experienced drugs and alcohol before. Once Sam and Patrick took him to a party where he was offered a brownie, “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”(Chbosky 34). It was his first time going to a party and all he wanted was to fit in. “He’s something, isn’t he?” Bob nodded his head. Patrick then said something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. “He’s a wallflower”( Chbosky 37). Like a flower drenched in nutrients from the water it obtains, Charlie will take whatever his friends give to him- cigarettes, booze, pot, anything. The consequences are not so great and Charlie knows that. According to eschooltoday.com it says,
“teenagers take drugs because they want to change something about their lives. Research shows that people take drugs mainly for the reasons listed: to fit in a community or group. To escape or relax. To feel grown up among their peers. To relieve boredom and give them personal excitement. To rebel and get violent without fear. To experiment (curiosity). Peer pressure. Many people who have taken drugs or alcohol say they saw it as a solution to a problem or barrier. But they ended up broken, failed and in deeper problems.” Charlie new taking drugs was wrong, but he fell into the trap of just wanting to fit in.