Study Guide

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Coming of Age

By Stephen Chbosky

Coming of Age

(Click the themes infographic to download.)

When we look in our Peterson Field Guide to Wildflowers, we see that the wallflower is classified as a late bloomer. But given plenty of water, sun, and socialization with other creatures (especially outgoing ones, like the social butterfly), they can blossom at a young age—say fifteen years or so?

Maybe it's because of his repressed memories that Charlie retains a somewhat wide-eyed, child-like view of the world in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Charlie's freshman year of high school is a life-changer, though. After being introduced to drugs and alcohol, meeting some of the best friends he may ever have, and discovering some dark secrets within himself, Charlie is definitely about to grow up.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. In what ways does Charlie mature in Perks and in what ways does he stay a kid?
  2. What are some of the rites of passage Charlie goes through during the novel? Are they normal teenage rites of passage or are they unique to his situation?
  3. How do some of the other young characters in the book mature? What do they have in common with Charlie, and what's different for them?

Chew on This

Charlie may feel like a grown up at times, but he still has a lot of actual growing up to do.

Due to his past, Charlie's growth is a little stunted, but it's not a permanent setback.

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