Study Guide

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Coming of Age

By Stephen Chbosky

Coming of Age

Part 1, Chapter 10
Charlie

I had never been to a party before. (1.10.9)

This is an important first in any kid's life. We just wish all of Charlie's firsts were this tame.

Part 2, Chapter 10
Charlie

She kissed me. It was the kind of kiss that I could never tell my friends about out loud. It was the kind of kiss that made me know that I was never so happy in my whole life. (2.10.43)

It was the kind of kiss that only happens in books or movies, the kind of kiss that only happens in slow motion in the rain with Zac Efron. Wait, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, Perks. The fact that Charlie is able to have this intimate moment gives us hope that he'll recover from his traumatic past experiences.

I think it was the first time in my life I ever felt like I looked "good." (2.10.13)

For a book that focuses on what's inside a teenage boy's head, appearances aren't all that central. What other moments in the book talk about the way someone looks? What's special about these moments?

Part 3, Chapter 4
Charlie

[Bill] made tea, and I felt like a grown-up. (3.4.2)

Charlie's relationship with Bill is pretty complex if you think about it. We mean, really, have you ever had an English teacher with whom you shared your deepest secrets? (Shmoop doesn't count.) But their interactions—tea included—help Charlie feel mature, which in turn helps him become more mature.

Part 3, Chapter 8
Charlie

My sister was counting on me, and this was the first time anyone ever counted on me for anything. (3.8.8)

That role reversal—going from counting on others to being counted on—Is a major part of growing up. Do other characters count on Charlie in Perks? Or does he still mostly play the part of the kid?

Part 3, Chapter 9
Charlie

My father came in and sat on the edge of my bed. He lit a cigarette and started telling me about sex. He gave me this talk a few years before, but it was more biological then. (3.9.17)

Part of Charlie's transition involves learning about the social and psychological aspects of sex—not just the birds and the bees and what goes where.

Part 4, Chapter 6
Charlie

It's strange to think of your teachers as being people. (4.6.8)

Teachers Are People: News at 11:00. But seriously, this is just another part of growing up: realizing that adults, even teachers, are people, too. Hey, they were even kids once. They might have been through the same things as you and made the same mistakes you made.

Part 4, Chapter 12
Charlie

"I do consider you a friend, Charlie." (4.12.55)

Bill feels he can talk to Charlie as a peer. What do you think of this relationship? Does Bill assume too much maturity in Charlie, or does he just see his potential?

All I cared about was the fact that Sam got really hurt. And I guess I realized at that moment that I really did love her. (4.12.32)

This declaration shows a real maturity on Charlie's part. During his relationship with Mary Elizabeth, Charlie hoped to make Sam jealous, but now he's just worried about her. That's assuming that he isn't just writing this to convince himself—but that's another discussion altogether.

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