English Period 6
Letter Essay #3 (Reed Cooper):
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Recently, I finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a 213 page novel written by Stephen Chbosky. Chbosky wrote and directed the film The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Stephen Chbosky lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Southern California’s Screenwriting Program. I decided to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, because it was highly recommended by my sister. I find it hard to pick out enjoyable books for myself, so having a recommendation from my sister helped a lot. In the novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, there are several writing techniques the author has incorporated into the text. Some of Chbosky’s techniques are very noticeable, and others are less noticeable, but nevertheless, each technique makes the novel more enjoyable to read.
In the novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, there are no chapters, but entries written on different dates. Since the book is written in a diary format, there are a lot of flashbacks to inform, the reader what went on between each entry. The novel is about a boy named Charlie who has just started his freshman year of high school. As explained throughout the text, Charlie wants to lead a more social life during the four years he will be spending in high school, so he meets lot’s of new people. Charlie meets a friendly pair of step siblings: Patrick and Sam. Patrick and Sam want Charlie to hang out with them and their friends, but their friends are much different then Charlie could have imagined; Patrick and Sam’s friends all drink alcohol and do drugs. Charlie decides to hang out with the group of teenager’s anyway to get closer to Sam (his crush as he would realize later in the text). As Charlie would also figure out later in the text, the group of people he chose to hang out with will change his life in ways he doesn’t like. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is all about how Charlie’s life starts to fall apart and his tremendous efforts to try and fix it.
I noticed how the author used a diary format to write the novel “August 25, 1991 (P. 2),” was the first time I was introduced to the format of the book. At first I was mislead into thinking The Perks of Being a Wallflower, was an autobiography because it was written in the same way as a diary, but then later realized it was a novel, as stated on the back of the book. This writing technique was very different from the books I choose to read because the diary format makes it so that after the gap in between the entries, flashback are there to catch the reader up to date with the story. Although this was confusing at times, it was quite fun to read because, since each entry was on a different date, there were some holes in the plot; because of these holes in the plot, it was up to the reader to make sense of what happened in between the entries when flashbacks were not provided. That was one of the techniques I noticed Chbosky use throughout the novel.
The main character in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie, has changed a lot as a human being throughout the novel in a negative way. “Can I have a cigarette (P. 101)?” was one of the first moments in the novel that proved Charlie’s life was going downhill. In the beginning of the novel, Charlie would have never wanted to smoke, thinking that it wasn’t morally right. Being that he saw his new friends Patrick and Sam smoke outside of school all the time, he must have thought he was making the right choices in order to fit in. Throughout the novel, little events such as these were some of the major issues leading up to Charlie’s life falling apart. When I first read this piece from the text, I couldn’t believe Charlie would want to smoke because it just wasn’t like him to do something like that. Chbosky created little events/problems such as these to lead up to Charlie’s breaking point: where he realized all of his wrongdoings and knew he had to fix them. This event can also be interpreted as the signpost: Contrasts and Contradictions. This event falls under this signpost because a contrasts and contradiction is when a character says or does something that contradicts what he has been saying or doing all along. By wanting to smoke, Charlie was contradicting what he has been doing and thinking all along. That is how Charlie has changed a lot in a negative way throughout the novel.
I wish the author had made the ending to this book not a happy one. “So, if this does end up being my last letter, please believe that things are good with me (P. 213)” This ending tells the reader that Charlie is doing well. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, had a somewhat happy ending, I and wish it hadn’t. I think that not having a positive ending to a book leaves the reader to wonder: How will he/she recover? and Why did the author do this? The Perks of Being a Wallflower’s ending did not make me wonder any of these questions. I was very disappointed about this; I was so invested in this novel until I saw everything with Charlie was okay. All signs pointing to a happy ending in this book were very low because Charlie’s life was a really big mess and it seemed somewhat impossible for him to fix it. That is why I wish Chbosky wrote an unhappy ending to The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Finally, I was angered by this passage, when Charlie is playing truth or dare with his friends. Chbosky writes:
“The dares were things like ‘chug a beer.’ But then, Patrick gave me a dare. I don’t even know what he was doing, but he gave it to me anyway.
‘Kiss the prettiest girl in the room on the lips.’
That’s when I chose to be honest. In retrospect, I probably could not have picked a worse time.
The silence started after I stood up (since Mary Elizabeth was sitting right next to me). By the time I had knelt down in front of Sam and kissed her, the silence was unbearable (P. 135).”
I was angered by this passage because Charlie didn’t kiss his girlfriend. At this part of the book, Charlie’s terrible life was starting to get better, and then he just goes and ruins it again. This leaves the reader to wonder, Why would Charlie do this? and What is going to happen to him next? Personally, I was happy for Charlie when he started repairing his life, but then all that happiness was washed away and replaced with second-hand embarrassment and anger. Although it angered me to read this passage, I’m glad it was in there because it added to the drama of the novel. After reading this passage, I knew that Charlie would keep on trying to correct his mistakes and might not be as likeable as he was before. I am very glad I read this book. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a 7 out of 10.
P.s. The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been turned into a movie. Here’s the trailer: