The Perks of Being a Wallflower

by: Stephen Chbosky

Part 2, continued

Charlie attempts to escape from his dark emotions by reading and re-reading The Catcher in the Rye. Charlie’s letters get increasingly anxious and increasingly depressed during the holidays. During the school year, Charlie can suppress his deep emotional trauma when he’s spending time with his friends, since they accept him and provide him with a supportive environment. The work that Charlie does with Bill also makes him feel special and helps him recognize himself as a person with talents and special skills. However, during the holidays, the only identity that Charlie can occupy is that of his troubled, traumatized self. Charlie feels the deep pressure of this role. He blames himself for his Aunt Helen’s death because the last thing that she told him before her car crash was that she was going to go look for his birthday present. Charlie is able to twist his memories to feed his inner guilt, even if this guilt is irrational. Charlie blames himself because Aunt Helen loved him too much, in his view. The nature of Charlie and Aunt Helen’s relationship isn’t totally clear at this point in the novel, because it’s not yet totally clear to Charlie. But there does seem to be something sort of sinister in this idea that Charlie blames himself for Aunt Helen’s death because she was too loving towards him. Charlie’s guilt and blame helps explain why he doesn’t yet feel comfortable approaching Sam and trying to go out with her. Charlie is subconsciously afraid that when he loves someone, and that when someone loves him back, somehow that process of loving him will take that person away.