Study Guide

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Family

By Stephen Chbosky


(Click the themes infographic to download.)

Everybody's family is different, and never is that more apparent than in young-adult fiction. Usually one or both parents are dead, older siblings have run away, or the protagonist has to play parent to a younger brother or sister. Well, not in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

On the surface, Charlie's family meets the textbook standard criteria for normal: mother, father, three kids. We wouldn't be surprised if they had a white picket fence. But just because they fit a mold set by 50s-era sitcoms, that doesn't mean they are one big happy family. They definitely have their share of problems, some of them dating back a generation or two. And they're certainly not forthcoming with loving comments and physical affection. Still, in the clutch, they all come together to support each other.

Questions About Family

  1. Why does Charlie give Aunt Helen a name when he doesn't name any of his other family members?
  2. Is Charlie's family a loving one? How can you tell?Ā 
  3. What is Charlie's relationship with his sister like? Do they have a normal sibling relationship or is there something unique happening with them?
  4. Sam and Patrick are step-siblings. How do their interactions differ from Charlie's interactions with his sister?

Chew on This

Charlie's family's hands-off approach to love makes Charlie unlikely to offer physical affection.

Charlie only seems to appreciate his family when he sees how bad other families can be.

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