Study Guide

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Part 1, Chapter 4

By Stephen Chbosky

Part 1, Chapter 4

September 16, 1991

  • Who's got a new favorite book? Charlie does. He loves To Kill a Mockingbird. Duh.
  • Oh, and Charlie's now on a first-name basis with his advanced English teacher, Bill. This is so Dead Poets Society.
  • Bill can tell that Charlie has a knack for the whole reading thing, so he gives Charlie another book to read. But Charlie doesn't tell us what it is. Boo.
  • Now Charlie tells us a story about his sister.
  • She has a boyfriend, whom Charlie doesn't give a name. (Get used to it.)
  • This boy gave Charlie's sister a mix tape called Autumn Leaves. 
  • Quick cultural snack: For all you digital-era peeps, a cassette is a plastic thing with tape in it, like a movie reel for sound, which plays music. (For all your cassette-era peeps, we're sorry we had to describe that.) A mix tape is like an MP3 playlist, playing whichever songs you choose in whatever order you want.
  • Okay, back to the story.
  • Charlie's sister didn't want it, so she gave it to him. And sure enough, when Charlie listened to it, he fell in love with the song "Asleep" by The Smiths.
  • Fast forward to a night when Charlie, his sister, and her boyfriend are watching a movie.
  • Um, well, at least Charlie was watching a movie. His sister was otherwise engaged—you know, berating her boyfriend for not standing up to his bully when he was fifteen.
  • The boyfriend starts to cry. Awkward.
  • Trying to make her point, Charlie's sister uses Charlie as an example. "Even Charlie stood up to his bully" (1.4.12).
  • Totally fed up, the boyfriend hits Charlie's sister. (This just got dark really fast.)
  • She doesn't tell anyone. In fact, she starts spending more time with him. 
  • Even Charlie rationalizes the boy's behavior: "I guess he stood up to his bully" (1.4.15). Well, that's one (really twisted) way of looking at it. 
  • Later that weekend, Charlie walks in on his sister and the boy having sex in the basement. Blah.