Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Charlie has quite a few opportunities to dance in the year of the book: the homecoming dance, a Sadie Hawkins dance, and a post-graduation dance party, to name a few.
But in all that time, Charlie only actually dances once. What gives?
When Bill asks Charlie if he dances, Charlie responds, "I'm not a very good dancer" (1.8.37). Really, though, who is? We're pretty sure Charlie's insecurity about dancing is just indicative of his reluctance to really participate in anything.
Instead, he just lurks along the walls at school dances—that's our wallflower. He's the first to admit it: "At the school dances, I sit in the background, and I tap my toe, and I wonder how many couples will dance to 'their song'" (1.8.28). The people dancing experience quite a lot (mostly drama), but Charlie just watches it go down.
Charlie doesn't bust a move until very late in his story when he and Sam share a slow dance: "She held me a little closer. I held her a little closer. And we kept dancing. It was the one time all day that I really wanted the clock to stop" (4.13.95). Hmmm, you might even say he felt infinite.
So should Charlie be dancing more? Will dancing make him less of a wallflower and bring him closer to others? Or is it the fact that he's coming out of his shell and making friends that allows him to dance to begin with?
P.S. One last thing to chew on. The only other time in the book that Charlie dances is when he takes Craig's place as Rocky in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But that hardly counts, right? After all, he's in costume and he's only dancing because he's playing a character. For more on Rocky Horror, check out our "Rocky Horror Picture Show" symbol page.