Study Guide

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Sadness

By Stephen Chbosky


Part 1, Chapter 2

I think it's sad because Susan doesn't look as happy. (1.2.2)

Charlie barely knows Susan, but her happiness, or lack of, affects Charlie emotionally. If Charlie is so empathic, why doesn't he ever do anything about it?

I guess I'm pretty emotional. (1.2.10)

Early on, Charlie's writing comes across as pretty sterile, so we're surprised to hear this. The only emotion we've seen from him so far is lots and lots of crying, but that's more of a reaction than an emotion.

Part 2, Chapter 11

I'm really glad that Christmas and my birthday are soon because that means they will be over soon because I can already feel myself going to a bad place I used to go. (2.11.4)

Birthdays and Christmas are usually associated with happy memories and excited anticipation, but Charlie has some pretty deep-seated anxieties about these special days. We don't really find out why until the end of the novel. (And you know we're not going to spoil it for you.)

Part 2, Chapter 14

I don't know if you've ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. (2.14.9)

These feelings are beyond sadness—they're approaching serious depression.

Part 2, Chapter 15

I can hear Sam and Craig having sex, and for the first time in my life, I understand the end of that poem. And I never wanted to. You have to believe me. (2.15.12)

Charlie's talking about the poem he read to Patrick: "A Person, a Paper, a Promise." Even when he's fatalistically depressed, this kid never ceases to defend his emotions. Does he really believe what he's saying, or is he trying to convince himself?

Part 3, Chapter 10

And then I felt really sad because I thought maybe I was different from how Mary Elizabeth saw me, too. (3.10.17)

Instead of trying to clarify to Mary Elizabeth who he really is—whoever that may be—Charlie just mopes about it. Passivity just seeps into every pore of his being.

I don't know if this is right or not, but it made me sad regardless. Not for Mary Elizabeth. Or for me. Just in general. (3.10.16)

Charlie spends a lot of time worrying about other people's low self-esteem. But what about his own?

Part 4, Chapter 5

The nights he would pick up someone always made him sad. (4.5.24)

Charlie's not the only sad one, of course. Patrick is using sex to get over Brad, but it's not quite working the way he intended. Is Stephen Chbosky trying to send a message here, or is he just telling it like it is?

Part 4, Chapter 13

I couldn't really tell if [Sam] was happy or sad, but it was enough just to see her and know she was there. (4.13.51)

One of the first things Charlie tries to figure out when he sees a person is if they're happy or sad—as though that's all that matters. Why is this so important to him?

Part 4, Chapter 14

"I thought that your being sad was much more important to me than Craig not being your boyfriend anymore." (4.14.25)

We all know the type: the ones who treat sad people as very fragile beings that need to be protected and coddled. Charlie feels that he has to act in these people's best interests—which is great—but he just seems to make assumptions as to what those interests are.

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