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Chbosky Reiterates Teenage Hardships in Perks


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Pinpoints "timeless" difficulties of an adolescent nature in relation to Stephen Chbosky's novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

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Chbosky Reiterates Teenage Hardships in Perks

  1. 1. Savannah Block Pre-College English Hour 2 5-12-08 Chbosky reiterates teenage hardships in Perks As new coming freshmen enter high school and seniors continue onto college, life after middle school changes from generation to generation. What some might consider the 'pinnacle of their life' has a tendency to mold. For instance, what were teenagers' demeanor, personality, or lifestyle in the 1950s? 1970S? Chances are, much different than that of teenyboppers today or the 1990s for that matter. Yet with that said, some aspects of an adolescent's life are timeless. Stephen Chbosky obviously found this same connection when writing his epistolary story, Perks of Being a Wallflower. In his first novel, Chbosky describes the life of a young man named Charlie and his hardships as a first- timer in high school. Suddenly, Charlie is thrown from junior high, left out to become something within his new educational facility. Knowing the undying basics of a teen's existence, Chbosky only needs to throw in a couple of characters and a developed plot line, and -voila- a piece of literature any minor can identify with; such essentials include secrets, rebelling, and the war against introversion. Any teenager possesses information that he or she might not want others to know about. Charlie and his friends are no exception. His entire message to whomever it is he's sending these letters to is not the whole truth. Details, such as what his real name is and the names of his friends and family are never revealed to the reader. “Please don't try to figure out who she is because then you
  2. 2. might figure out who I am, and I really don't want you to do that” (page 1). Safety seems to be the key issue in Charlie's decision to not revel his true identity, as is Charlie's sister's decision to not tell her parents about her pregnancy. Although their parents pushed to know general details of Charlie's whereabouts the day he took his sister to the clinic, his sister was able to continue the theater/fast food charade. “'Where have you two been all day?' {...} I started talking a mile a minute about how we saw move {...} and went to McDonalds. 'What movie did you go see?' {...} I froze but my sister came through with the name of a movie” (page 120, 121.) Possibly the most crucial and controversial 'secret' would be Patrick's and Brad's relationship, or the gay community as a whole. In the 1990's gays were looked upon with disgrace, and though the discrimination still exists today, Patrick and Brad must have lived their lives in a much tougher way. Charlie describes the secluded, late-night cluster 1990s society forced homosexual people into, shown to him by Patrick. “One night Patrick took me to this park where men go to find each other. {...} Nobody talks. They just find places to go” (page 161.) Charlie also discussed other places these men met other men. “I think Patrick took me to about every place there is to go that I wouldn't have known otherwise. There was this karaoke bar {...} And this one bathroom in this one gym” (page 163). In the beginning, Brad and Patrick would hide behind drugs, unable to face their true colors. Drugs help describe upheaval turn out to be just another faucet for the numerous literary concepts in Perks. Children are, at one time or another, going to disagree with their parents or society. Chbosky definitely sees the underlying cause to a well-sized portion of where these disagreements surface: rebellion. Throughout Perks, Charlie disobeys his parents', every parents' wishes. Charlie wrote, “{...} I decided never to take LSD again” (page 100) clearly indicating that he had taken this drug, something his parents would not be proud of. He goes on to say how heartbroken he would be if his parents found out the real reason the police found him in the snow. “But most of all, I didn't want to see my mother's face and especially my father's if they heard me say the truth” (page 99.) With the encouragement from
  3. 3. Sam, Charlie started smoking, another habit looked badly upon by adults and parents alike. “That's when she gave me the cigarette. {...} I'm up to about ten cigarettes a day” (page 102, 103.) Not only does Charlie rebel his parents, but he and his crew seem to rebel against the 'norm.' Stopping fights and wearing suits to school can lead up to one getting odd stares at during school. Patrick and Sam both do not seem like the type of people to run with the crowd; they seem to be nonconformists to the very definition. Charlie overheard what others might think of him by an unknown guy's mutter, “God what a fucking freak” (page 145.) Not that Charlie is intentionally acting the way he does. Actions such as these are quite possibly the way Charlie perceives the world, much like an observer. A true wallflower aspect. Charlie had a difficult time participating in life. Throughout Perks, Charlie attempts to do just that, live his life. Before this epiphany, the protagonist thought how he went about his daily existence was fine although it was far from it. “I keep quite most of the time,” (page 7) he confesses, not yet finding who Charlie really is. Until he met Patrick and Sam, Charlie did not, could not throw himself into actuality. Patrick understands where Charlie comes from. “You see things. You keep quite about them. And you understand” (page 37.) This level of understanding helps Charlie, although the new lifestyle is not the easiest when the old lifestyle does not cease to exist. When Sam and Patrick are not there to hold Charlie's hand, he tends to regress back to what he feels comfortable doing, observing. Charlie's endeavor at the mall is a great example, showcasing the need for more assistance in the early stages of Charlie's participation. Another abettor giving Charlie the idea to live life would be Bill, the English teacher. One of their conversations is the entire base to this entire point. “ {...}' It's just that sometimes people use thought to not participate in life.' 'Is that bad?' 'Yes'” (page 24.) The end of Perks leaves the reader wondering if he will be able to survive without being surrounded by his friends and other influential people all day, everyday. Without constant cheer leading, can Charlie stay afloat and be the Sam and Patrick for another unsuspecting Freshmen?
  4. 4. As we graduate from junior high and move onto what we think are greener pastures, few things will stay the same. Unless the next batch of children this world will soon see become perfect, we can surely expect there to be the same frustrating and downright unintelligent situations kids will find themselves in. Kids will always become silent around handfuls of subjects, talk back to their parents and what is considered normal, as well as fight to be the life of the party. Chbosky knew these important factors, and through developing the sympathizing main character of Perks, he was able to create one of those rare high school novels that really capture the essence and epitome of a teenager.
  5. 5. Works Cited Chbosky, Stephen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. New York: MTV Books/Pocket Books, 1999