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Belonging: The Perks of Being a Wallflower Essay

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a set of fictional diary entries written by Stephen Chbosky. Charlie is the adolescent narrator who is in his tenth year of high school. Charlie decides to write anonymous letters to someone simply because he wants someone to listen and to not question his thoughts. The letters began after his only friend Michael committed suicide. Not belonging to a community can cause alienation and marginalisation. When Charlie started High School, he knew nobody. Starting at a new school shortly after his best friend died contributed to Charlie’s rational thoughts. ‘Some kids look at me strange in the hallways because I don’t decorate my locker, and I’m the one who beat up Sean and started crying about it after he did it’. The reflective tone and accumulation explain to the audience why he does not belong to a group within his school community. A couple of weeks into school, he met a senior named Patrick during shop class.

At the Saturday football match Charlie and Patrick recognised each other and slowly began to develop a relationship. ‘The nice thing about Big Boy was the fact that Patrick and Sam didn’t throw around inside jokes to make me feel like an outsider’. The euphoric quote recognises how relationships can form a sense of belonging and how they have the ability to improve someone’s happiness. Belonging is often the result of sharing common values. In result of Sam (Patricks sister) having such an outgoing personality, Charlie began to learn about their simular interests. ‘Sam and I began to really get along, just like Harold and Maude in the book Mr Anderson just asked me to read’. The simile helps identify their relationship and indicate that this may develop during the book. Throughout the book, Charlie grows closer to Patrick and Sam. While trying to belong to a new community, he starts to understand that there are many secrets that people hide from the surface to avoid judgement. At the formal after party, Charlie saw Brad and Patrick ‘making out’. When Brad saw Charlie he reacted negatively in a dramatic way. ‘WHAT IS HE DOING HERE?’ the capital letters and question mark express to the reader how embarrassed Brad was.

After two weeks Patrick explained to Charlie why Brad reacted the way he did. Brad was the in the football, and therefore was stereotyped by the whole school. Brad was so embarrassed that he would only be affectionate with Patrick behind closed doors, at parties, while he was either drunk or stoned. Brads parents then sent him away to rehabilitation for the summer to overcome getting stoned and/or drunk on a regular basis. After he returned, he barely even looked at Patrick. ‘I asked Patrick if he felt sad that he had to keep it a secret, and Patrick just said that he wasn’t sad because at least now, Brad doesn’t have to get drunk or stoned to make love’. The deep emotional tone incorporated by Patrick emphasises his care for how others feel. Brad and Patricks relationship demonstrates how belonging to a particular group and culture can prevent individuality. In the conclusion of the book, Charlie starts to lose control over his emotions.

Belonging to a group can bring support in times of need to help overcome life barriers. After Charlie passed out in Sam’s arms, he had a dream where his Aunt Helen was still alive. ‘Everything was in slow motion. The sound was thick. And she was doing what Sam was doing’. The visually, auditory imagery and short sentences explains to the reader the truth in his relationship with his Aunt. During the beginning of the book Charlie had a sexually dream of Sam on top of him, and now he was having the same about his aunt. She sexually assaulted her nephew during her last months before passing away. This quote clarifies why Charlie is so emotional troubled and contently ‘blacks-out’ when he overwhelms himself with emotions. ‘You’re my best friend, was all I could say in return. She kissed my check, and for a moment it was like the bad part last night didn’t happen’. The contrast from last night and how he was feeling now emphasises the dramatic effects of relationships.

Stephen Chbosky explores the aspects of belonging throughout The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The sense of not belonging, belonging to a group, power on one’s identity and being allowed to express yourself within a culture was explored constantly while incorporating many obstacles for each character. b) Compare both Strictly Ballroom and the Perks of Being a Wallflower Strictly Ballroom is a film production directed by Baz Luhrmann. Luhrmann focuses on film techniques when emphasising the belonging aspects in his film, while Chbosky focuses on literally techniques. During the opening scenes of Strictly Ballroom, the main character Scott, demonstrates his fear and need to express himself artistically. Scott belonging to the ballroom community repressed his individuality which made over coming obstacles very difficult for Scott.

Fran was one who shared a common interest and gave Scott courage to express his individuality through his artistic ability. Close-ups were used to show Scott’s frustration and anger in not understanding why he cannot dance ‘his’ way. In complete contrast Charlie in Perks of Being a Wallflower maintains his identity, but does not fit in with a group because of how different he is. In the State championships Scott had the opportunity to dance with Fran and show the audience his ability. Barry Fife is the Machiavellian character who uses his persuasive techniques and power to locate obstacles in Scott’s path.

Patrick and Brad in Perks of Being a Wallflower also are thrown many obstacles by the community. Brad is like Scott and is too frightened to show their personal identity. In the denouement of Strictly Ballroom Scott and Fran finally have the ability and courage to stand up the Barry Fife and the Ballroom community to show their ability and dance the way ‘they think is right’. Quick editing, close ups and non-diabetic music was used in this scene to maintain excitement and hope for Scott and Fran. Charlie stays true to himself throughout the story and comes to terms with all the traumatising events in his life that have caused him to have mental problems.


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