Study Guide

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Passivity

By Stephen Chbosky


Part 1, Chapter 2

I was hoping that the kid who told the truth [about Sean] could become a friend of mine, but I think he was just being a good guy by telling. (1.2.13)

No one makes friends by hoping—it requires action. And good taste in TV.

Part 1, Chapter 8

"Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life." (1.8.32)

When done in moderation, these people are called authors. Oh, we kid. But maybe Charlie will use his observant wallflower skills to become a writer.

Part 1, Chapter 10

I'm sorry I haven't written to you in a couple of weeks, but I have been trying to "participate" [sic] like Bill said. (1.10.2)

Don't use sarcastic air quotes with us, Charlie!

Part 2, Chapter 7

I think it would be great to have written one of those songs. (2.7.9)

Charlie spends a lot of time thinking about how awesome it would be to do stuff—write a song, a novel, a poem—but no time actually attempting to do it. Or does he? He is writing these letters after all…

Part 3, Chapter 7

[Sam] really did look sad, and I wished I could have made her feel better, but sometimes, I guess you just can't. So, I stood alone by the wall and watched the dance for a while. (3.7.17)

That's the spirit, Charlie! NOT. Charlie can't even muster up enough action to help his friend feel better. It's one thing when your passivity only affects you, but Charlie's inaction is starting to affect everyone around him.

Part 3, Chapter 12

I'd do anything to […] not have to see a psychiatrist, who explains to me about being "passive aggressive." (3.12.13)

Hmmm. It might do Charlie some good to pay attention to this part of his therapy. What do you think? Is Charlie passive aggressive? Or just plain passive?

Part 4, Chapter 2

I just kind of listen and nod because Patrick needs to talk. (4.4.2)

Charlie makes for a pretty passive friend. But maybe Patrick really does just need a shoulder to lean on and a person to talk to. What do you think?

Part 4, Chapter 4

And I just let [Patrick kiss me]. Because that's what friends are for. (4.4.79)

Oh, that's what friends are for? We missed that boat. What we think Charlie is saying is that friends should just do whatever their friends want them to. Hmmm, we're not so sure.

Part 4, Chapter 5

It's just hard to see a friend hurt this much. Especially when you can't do anything except "be there." I want to make him stop hurting, but I can't. (4.5.3)

Why doesn't Charlie try to say or do something to help Patrick out? And who told him that all he could do was "be there"? Where is he getting all these ideas?

Part 4, Chapter 9

It was a great way to sit alone at a party and still feel a part of things. (4.9.9)

Charlie has found a way to turn his passivity into a strength—DJ Charlie, comin' at ya.

Part 4, Chapter 12

I just remember wanting to hug [Bill]. But I've never done that before, and I guess Patrick and girls and family don't count. (4.12.56)

We doubt Bill would have objected to a hug, but Charlie doesn't try—simply because he's never hugged another non-family adult before.

Part 4, Chapter 14

"You can't just sit there and put everybody's lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love." (4.14.27)

We couldn't have said it better ourselves, Sam. Still, we're not sure if this will sink in with Charlie any time soon. And while we're at it, do you think Sam is being a bit harsh here? Will Charlie learn anything from this gem?

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