The Perks of Being a Wallflower Summary

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a novel by Stephen Chbosky in which social outcast Charlie befriends fellow misfits Patrick and Sam.

  • Socially awkward Charlie recently lost his best friend to suicide. Sam and Patrick befriend Charlie and help him become more confident.
  • Charlie develops romantic feelings for Sam, which culminates in him kissing her at a party despite the fact that she has a boyfriend. Sam and Patrick begin ignoring Charlie.
  • The friends reconcile after Charlie steps in to defend Patrick from his ex-boyfriend during an altercation.
  • Charlie has a breakdown after his friends leave for college, but he insists he's recovering. 


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Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 3778

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story told through a series of letters; the first one is dated August 25, 1991, and the last is dated August 23, 1992. Each letter is addressed the same—“Dear Friend.” Charlie is hoping this Friend, someone older but whom he has never met, will be a person he can trust although he only knows about him from a conversation he overheard. This Friend had the chance to take advantage of someone at a party but does not; this makes him a good person in Charlie’s eyes. It is a one-sided, sporadic correspondence covering Charlie’s first year of high school. In these letters, he shares his failures, successes, disappointments, questions, observations, and conclusions.

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Part 1

His friend Michael just committed suicide, and Charlie is upset, more upset than most of the other students in school are. Charlie is fifteen and the youngest of three children. He has an older brother who is going to play football at Penn State and an older sister who is “mean to boys.” His parents are each hardworking—one at home, one at work—and he adores his mother’s sister, who has died. Aunt Helen lived with them for a few years because something terrible happened to her. Tomorrow is Charlie’s first day of high school and he is afraid.

High school is not fun for Charlie. One boy tries to pick on him, and Charlie defends himself with moves his brother taught him, but these moves actually hurt the other boy. Charlie is emotional and bursts into tears because he was only trying to defend himself and did not mean to hurt anyone.

Charlie is in an advanced English class and loves reading; his teacher (who asks Charlie to call him Bill outside of class) is even giving him extra work to do because he is doing so well. The first book he gives him is To Kill a Mockingbird.

His sister’s latest boyfriend is rather weak; he makes her themed mix tapes and cries quite easily, until one night she goads him past his breaking point and he hits her in the face. She does not react, but from that night they are “going together.” Charlie stays silent both about the hit and about seeing them naked on the couch downstairs.

After advanced English, Charlie’s favorite class in school is shop class, partly because one of his classmates is named Nothing. One day the class was teasing Patrick by calling him “Patty” and he shouted at them to call him by his real name or call him nothing. They chose Nothing. Charlie remembers visiting his Aunt Helen’s grave and watching the final episode of M*A*S*H with his family. He believes he has a good family, including a dad who is able to cry but does not want anyone to know it. At a football game, Charlie sees Nothing and knows he is friendly enough to talk to even though Charlie is much younger and not very popular. Nothing introduces himself as Patrick, and then he introduces Charlie to Sam, a very pretty girl. They invite him to watch the game with him and then take him to the Big Boy to hang out. Charlie decides he should start calling Nothing by his real name, and he is smitten with Sam. He thinks about asking her on a date sometime in the...

(The entire section contains 3778 words.)

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