Perks Of Being A Wallflower Essay Question

Character Sketches

             Charlie                                      sam                                        patrick

Discussion Questions

Pre-Reading Questions

  1. Have you ever done something you didn’t want to do in order to fit in or be accepted?
  2. Describe an instance in which you felt alienated. How did it make you feel?
  3. Describe an instance when you alienated someone else. Why did you do it?
  4. What factors might motivate teenagers to try drugs?
  5. What are your expectations of someone suffering with mental illness?

In addition to these pre-reading questions, we have provided handout for a pre-reading activity.

Reader Response Questions

  1. Would you be friends with Charlie? Why or why not?
  2. There are so many books, songs, and movies referenced throughout the novel. How do these references affect the way you read this book?
  3. Charlie experiences using drugs against his own free will on pages 34-35. How would you react to this type of situation? Would you be upset? Angry? Happy? Would you react similarly to Charlie? Why or why not?
  4. How does Charlie interact with and describe his family? How do you feel about these relationships and how they may change over time?
  5. Why do you think Charlie wants to remain anonymous? Have there been times when you wish you could have, or did?
  6. What do you think being a wallflower is? Do you agree with Bob's definition?
  7. Several important issues come upduring the course of the book, ranging from molestation to drug use. How does Charlie deal with these? How have the issues affected his friends and family?
  8. Discuss Charlie's reaction to his brother and sister throwing a party. What did you think about the couple in his room? What about Charlie's response?
  9. What is your reaction to what we find out about Aunt Helen at the end of the story? Was there anything that foreshadowed this secret throughout the story?
  10. What do you think of the poem that Charlie shares with his friends at their Christmas gift exchange?

Interpretive Community questions

  1. In what ways do you think modern readers might struggle with the Perks of Being a Wallflower's 1990's setting?
  2. How is the high school in The Perks of Being a Wallflower different from our high school? How is it the same?
  3. Which problems presented in the novel still exist today?
  4. How might a modern day setting alter the story?
  5. Which incidents in the story tell us the most about Charlie?
  6. What acts affect your feelings about Charlie?
  7. Why is Charlie alienated?
  8. What type of person would fit into Sam and Patrick's clique?
  9. What does Charlie value? (answers could include ideas, material items or people)
  10. What are Charlie's goals? What does he want?

Critical Synthesis Questions

  1. Why does Charlie have a difficult time relating with Mary Elizabeth? Do you think he could have made more of an effort to engage her in conversation? Why or why not? (FEMINIST CRITICISM)
  2. What effect does Patrick's homosexuality have on the reading of the text? How do you think the piece would change if Patrick were heterosexual? (GENDER/QUEER STUDIES)
  3. How does the piece being written as a series of letters change its meaning? (FORMALISM)
  4. What effect does Charlie's repression of his being molested have on the piece? (PSYCHOANALYTIC CRITICISM)
  5. What aspects of the text reflect the time period in which it is being written? (NEW HISTORICISM)
  6. How is the book different than other books in the Young Adults genre? (DECONSTRUCTION)
  7. What social classes do the characters in the piece represent? (MARXIST CRITICISM)
  8. Is there a single passage in the text that could, on its own, give an adequate summation of the piece? (FORMALISM)
  9. Is Charlie represented as a masculine or feminine character? (GENDER/QUEER STUDIES)
  10. What patterns do you recognize between Charlie's letters? What phrases does he use frequently? (STRUCTURALISM)

Instructor's Guide

Discussion Questions activities

  1. Character Panel: Students will develop questions to interrogate important characters within the novel. Students will be selected to play the role of these important characters and provide answers appropriate to their assigned character while the rest of the class presents their questions
  2. Discussion Jar: A jar will be filled with slips of paper listing different discussion questions. Students will pass the jar around and take out one slip of paper each, discussing whichever question is listed. The jar will be passed around continuously until empty.
  3. Silent Discussion: The teacher will post large pieces of paper with discussion questions/topics around the room. Students will walk around the room, writing down their response to the questions and any previous responses. Everyone is to remain silent until each student has written on at least half of the papers. The teacher will then share key portions of these written responses with the class.
The protagonist of the piece, Charlie is just entering his freshman year of high school. He is a bit of a social outcast, as he is quiet, keeps to himself, and has no friends. Thankfully, while at a school football game, Charlie meets Patrick and Sam, brother and sister and seniors at school, and Charlie begins to experience high school for real. Charlie has an immense crush on Sam, and he is also dealing with unknown mental health issues. For most of the piece Charlie is described as being a “wallflower—“that is to say, he watches, listens, and observes.

Sam is the object of Charlie’s desires for the majority (and possibly all of) the piece. Sam and Charlie share a close friendship, though that friendship is strained when Charlie kisses her instead of his girlfriend, Mary Elizabeth, when prompted to kiss the prettiest girl in the room. Sam is described as being completely beautiful, and seems to usually have a boyfriend with whom she is involved. At the end of the book, Sam and Charlie share an intimate moment, which triggers some of Charlie’s memories of his childhood sexual abuse. Sam is Patrick's step-sister.

Otherwise known as “Nothing,” Patrick is perhaps Charlie’s closest friend. Patrick is gay and has a relationship—of sorts—with the school’s varsity quarterback. He seems to enjoy smoking, participating in theater, listening to music, and generally joking around. He is Sam’s step-brother—and they seem to be inseparable, spending an enormous amount of time with her.

1. Discuss the role of Charlie’s brother in the novel. How does Charlie’s relationship with his brother change throughout the novel? How does Charlie’s family treat his brother? How does the brother treat Charlie’s family?

2. Analyze the date-rape that Charlie recalls witnessing early in the novel. How does Charlie remember the scene, and how does Charlie come to terms with this memory? What effect does this scene have throughout the rest of the book?

3. Discuss the role of Charlie’s psychiatrists. How are his psychiatrists similar to or different from the “friend” to whom he writes his letters?

4. Analyze the series of books that Bill gives Charlie. What books does Charlie read, when does he read them, and how do they either reflect or influence events happening in his life at the same time?

5. Discuss the relationship between the final letter of Part 4 and the Epilogue. How would the book have been different if the book did not have the Epilogue?

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