Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
I think all any classic Bildungsroman begins with a want and need for approval, even when the unwanted actions by family and loved ones become depressing. I could feel the same pain and anxiety Charlie was feeling and it brought back a familiar feeling that I once had. I connected with him as I understood that same feeling of approval. It pulled me back four or five years ago in high school and engulfed me with emotions. But seeing the growth and happiness he gains through the movie to the end where he finally knows his place in the world after a dark, unwanted past is truly what made me chose Charlie from “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” as my character. Throughout the film Charlie relives the tragedy of his aunt through foreshadowing and flashbacks, and the happiness he began feeling when his two new friends changed his life.
Foreshadowing is a strong literary device used all through the movie building up and unfolding the truth behind Charlie’s emotional loss of his Aunt Helen. At the beginning of the movie I could tell he had a strong bond with his aunt. After a tough first day of high-school no one seemed to understand him like she did and begins writing to an unknown friend, “If my Aunt Helen were still here I could talk to her, and I know she would understand how I’m both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure how that could be, I just hope I can make a friend soon. Love always, Charlie” (perf. L. Sherman). He always talked about “getting bad again”, that showed to me there must be more to his and his aunt’s relationship. Charlie sees his sister’s boyfriend slap her, he tries to talk some sense into her when she swears he has never and will never again. He responds with, “like Aunt Helen’s boyfriends?” (perf. L. Sherman). Showing another piece, I now understand his aunt was mistreated by men in her past.
Later in the film it’s New Years and also Charlie’s birthday. He’s outside looking at the lumineers when a flashback of his aunt and him comes up from when he was a boy. Later that night seconds to go before the new year another flashback appears of his aunt unfolding the truth. She asked Charlie to keep a secret, and was killed in crash with a semi truck that night.
Through all this he started to mature and grow which made the flashbacks he saw controllable and less painful.
Charlie is the perfect example of a Bildungsroman, him being the protagonist, with the loss of his Aunt Helen. He can not seem not find his place in high school until he meets Patrick and Sam. He assumes when he meets them that they are dating but, nonetheless to find out they are step-siblings. He starts to hang out with them both more and their friend group, even though they were Seniors. Patrick and Sam take him to his first high school party. Sam’s friend gets Charlie “stoned” from a marijuana edible and becomes open and talkative, he makes friends and, talks about what he really thinks about high school. Sam is special to Charlie, he shows this at the party when he confesses he has never been “high” or even gone to a party because his best friend’s dad hated it. To my shock Sam asks, “Well where is Michael tonight?”, and him responding with, “Oh, he shot himself last May” (perf. E. Watson, L. Sherman).
Another unexpected loss Charlie has had, but after that night he seems to be growing. He writes to his unknown friend again, apologizing for not talking because he was actually trying harder to fit in. He’s starting to feel better about himself and I think Sam plays a big role in that. Charlie helps her for months with studying for the SAT test. Christmas time arrives and Sam gets him and incredible gift for helping her, a typewriter, that symbolizes a move forward in Charlie’s writing career and their relationship. She even sees their growth when she says, “I feel like I’m finally doing good” continuing with “What about you? When I met you, you were this scared freshman now look at you in that suit you’re like a sexy english schoolboy” (perf. E. Watson). He then finally reveals to Sam that he’s never had a girlfriend, he’s actually never kissed a girl before. At this point Charlie finally find out that Sam used to be abused as a child following into her teen years she would get drunk and guys would take advantage of her until now when she finally feels at peace with herself.
Charlie gets himself into an awkward situation after the Sadie-Hawkins dance of having a girlfriend. He tried for weeks to tell her how he really felt but she too nice and in their friend group so Charlie didn’t want to upset her. They go to a party together and start playing truth or dare when Patrick asks Charlie how his first relationship is going. He says, “It’s so bad that I keep fantasizing that one of us is dying of cancer, so that I don’t have to break up with her.” (Perf. L. Sherman). His friends think it’s a joke and dare him to kiss that prettiest girl in the room, so he kisses Sam. This creates a mess of trouble for him so he takes Patrick’s advice to stay away for a while.
After two weeks without seeing any of his friends. He starts to write to his unknown friend again and talks how he’s starting to get bad again. When he says that I assume he’s talking about the guilt he feels about his aunt Helen as he starts to see flashbacks of her like he use too.
He tries to communicate to his friends but they’re still upset with him. Until one day at school Patrick gets into a fight with the football players, and Charlie is the only one who stepped in to save him. That’s when he finally reconnects with Patrick and Sam. The end of the school year starts closing up which means all of his friends will be leaving for college.
This is the final turning point for Charlie and he becomes truly happy. He takes what Sam and Patrick taught him about life, love, and friendship along through high-school until it was his turn to graduate. Overall, I think the most important thing Charlie learned was that no one has control of life but your own and when you take that control back you create your own destiny.