Passivity Vs. Passion In The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
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Passivity Vs. Passion
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is by no means a typical narrative. Taking the form of an epistolary novel presented as a series of letters from a boy who calls himself Charlie, but notes that he will change names and minor details so for the sake of his anonymity, the short novel tackles themes such as pedophilia, drug use, depression, abortion and many more complex issues. Stuck in the middle of the mix is a young boy who certainly is not the archetypal protagonist, the novel's wallflower. Subjected to witness the hardships of those around him, he rarely goes out on a limb to achieve much gratification for himself, remaining socially dormant instead. However, in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, author Stephen Chbosky uses the outside influence of art to inspire Charlie's transition from passivity to interaction.
Because he spends almost his entire life observing others rather than interacting with them, it is doubtful that Charlie realizes very much about himself. This is why he is able to have such incredible depth as a freshman in high school, pondering things such as the idea of property after having seen a girl wearing her boyfriend's letterman's jacket. He questions many things, such as mathematics, though his teacher eventually tells him to stop asking "why?" and to simply memorize the formulas--which he does, resulting in his earning an A in the class. But most of all, he is a great friend, the kind that would let his gay friend--scorn from a lost lover--kiss him goodnight, because "thats what friends are for"(161).
There are many characters in the book who introduce Charlie to new and different art forms. Most notable in the bunch is his English teacher, with whom he is on a first n...
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...t to the reader that Charlie has completely made the transition when he and Sam confess their love for one another the night before she leaves for college. Though it is doubtful that he will ever lose his inquisitive nature and uncommon profundity, Charlie managed to shed his bashful aura, and certainly to grow inconceivably--all in one short school year. He learned a great passion for literature as well as other art forms, and he certainly learned a new set of social skills. In the beginning of the novel, Charlie was a shy, socially challenged person--as are most teenagers. However, thanks to the help he receives from Bill as well as others, he goes from a wallflower to an outgoing, promising young man with the ability to contribute great things to society.
Chbosky, Stephen. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. New York: MTV Books/Pocket Books, 1999.