Characterization of Charlie - “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
05. Aug '19
Write a characterization of the protagonist Charlie.
Charlie, the protagonist of the novel “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, is a pensive freshman who narrates about his life, feelings and thoughts in a series of letters in order to figure out why he is the way he is and to assimilate several decisive occurrences which caused his conspicuous character and which are also the reason for his tendency to observe life more than participating in it.
Charlie is an exceptional person because he acts and thinks differently than other kids in his age: While some call him a “freak” (p. 124), his friends call him - in a more positive way - a “wallflower” (p. 37). Moreover, his English teacher Bill, with who Charlie develops a quiet close relationship, notices that Charlie is different since he treats him specially handing him books and giving him several advices and extra feedback on his texts. Bill also says that Charlie is “very special” and “one of the most gifted people [he has] ever known” (both p. 154). Charlie’s conspicuous character is caused by certain happenings in the past, like the suicide of his friend Michael and chiefly his aunt’s sexual abuse, that had a big impact on him. This can be detected by the fact that he needs psychiatric help especially after he remembers his aunt’s abuse (“[...] my mother and my father found me sitting on the couch in the family room. I was completely naked, just watching the television, which wasn’t on. [...] So they brought me to the hospital where I stayed when I was seven after my aunt Helen died”, p. 176).
As well, Charlie’s emotional state is contrary. This is the reason why he intents to figure out why he is “both happy and sad” (p. 8) in the series of letters he writes. This contrast, that can be found in a lot of Charlie’s narrations represent the extraordinary complex burden he has to deal with.
Furthermore, Charlie tends to observe his and other’s life more than really being part of it. This is the reason why Bill gives him the advise to change his way of life because “sometimes people [meant is Charlie] use thought to not participate in life” (p. 26). In general, Charlie seems to think a lot since all of his letters are about his observations and his thoughts on them. Besides, Sam mentions the same characteristic aspect about Charlie when she says that “[..] it’s like you’re [meant is Charlie] not even there sometimes. [...] You can’t just sit there and put everybody’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love” (p. 169). In addition, this can also be attributed to what his aunt did to him as, when he remembers, he starts to think “too fast again, and it’s all in my [Charlie’s] head like the trance, but it’s there, and it won’t go away.” (p. 173).
To conclude one can say that Charlie is - compared to others in his age - an remarkable person. The characteristic aspects of his personality, and especially his tendency to think a lot and to not participate in life, are mainly caused by his aunt’s abuse when he was younger. Because of this, Charlie writes about his life in order to come in terms with what happened to him and why he is that special.