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The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

by Stephen Chbosky

Drugs and Alcohol Theme

You won't find the wallflower (Latin name: teenagerus nonparticipatus) in an issue of Better Homes & Gardens. On account of it not being a real flower and all. But if it were, it would probably be a plant Nancy Botwin would grow (illegally), not something you would just pick up at your local garden center.

We're basing this faux horticultural analysis on Charlie's life in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. He doesn't watch a lot of TV, so the whole "Just Say No" campaign clearly never sank in. Like a flower soaking in nutrients from the water it receives, Charlie will take whatever his friends (or complete strangers) give to him—cigarettes, booze, pot, LSD, you name it. The consequences? Not so great.

Questions About Drugs and Alcohol

  1. How do drugs and alcohol affect Charlie's perceptions of life?
  2. Does drinking and doing drugs bring Charlie closer to his friends? If so, what kind of message is that sending to young readers? Does Chbosky counter that message in other ways?
  3. Why do you think Patrick decide to quit drinking?
  4. Why does Charlie start smoking pot so much? Why does he quit?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Each character uses drugs and/or alcohol to numb themselves or to escape from a difficult situation.

Charlie's passivity makes him more likely to take whatever drug is given to him.

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