The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This study guide will help you analyze the novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective. 

The quotes from this study guide are taken from the 2009 Pocket Books edition.

Presentation of the text

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999)
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Genre: Novel

Stephen Chbosky (b. 1970) is an American novelist, screenwriter, and movie director. He is best known for his 1999 novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which he wrote over the course of five years. Elements of the book's plot and characters are based on Chbosky's own memories of being a teenager. 

In 2012, Chbosky adapted the book into a screenplay, and directed a movie version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower starring Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Ezra Miller. 

Excerpt

Below you can find an excerpt from our study guide:

Symbols

The Perks of Being a Wallflower features a number of symbols. For example, several characters in the story give each other mixtapes, which are symbols of friendship. Charlie shows his affection for Patrick by making him a mixtape for Secret Santa (pp. 65-66); Patrick later shows he appreciates Charlie’s friendship by playing the tape when he is depressed about Brad (p. 168). Charlie even makes a mixtape for his Aunt Helen and leaves it by her grave (p. 99). However, mixtapes become a symbol of manipulation in the context of Charlie’s sister. Her boyfriend makes her mixtapes and also hits her. 

The act of driving is another important symbol in the book. Patrick and Sam’s independence and maturity are confirmed by the fact that they can both drive and have a pick-up truck. Charlie sees gaining his driving license as an important milestone – and is also an external marker of maturity accepted by society. In a country like the US, it is often hard to get around without a car of your own. Therefore, to most Americans, a car symbolizes freedom. Driving gives Charlie a new independence and allows him to help others, such as taking his sister to her abortion appointment. 

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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