SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS FOR THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
Go to the Learning Guide for this film.
Great Quotes From the Film
Patrick: You see things and you understand – you're a wallflower. Charlie: I didn't think anyone noticed me.
Patrick: We didn't think there was anyone cool left to meet.
Patrick: Welcome to the Island of the Misfit Toys.
Charlie: Do you think that if people knew how crazy your are they would never talk to you. Sam: All the time.
Mary Elizabeth: I hope it works out. Patrick: I don't know. Alice: Craig would be a big step up from her last boyfriend. . . . Mary Elizabeth: . . . Who could forget Mr. Car Wash Loser? Patrick: I just hope she can stop playing dumb with these guys. I keep telling her, "Don't make yourself small."
For more quotes from the book, see Perks of Being a Wallflower Quotes.
Statements by the Author/Director in the Commentary to the Film
(Some quotations may not be exact)
Chbosky: Our wallflower is looking and he's remembering everything and he's carrying it with him.
Chbosky: The generation gap is nothimg more than a conversation we haven't had yet.
Chbosky: The thing I've learned about writing novels and also directing is that they are kind of the same job, ultimately. It's about creating a world and creating a tone and a universe that all the characters get to play in. But in one, all you're using is your imagination and some words on a piece of paper. And in the other one you are using as many as 350 people at any given time. And what's beautiful about the process is that it's always evolving and the people that you work with are always challenging you to make it better and they are adding their own sense of autobiography and their own passions.
Mr. Chbosky commented that one of the differences between writing the novel and making the movie was how the information that Charlie's best friend Michael had shot himself the year before could be revealed to the audience. In the book, he did it at the very beginning. In making the movie, he felt that it would cast a pall over the beginning of the film. He found a way to place this revelation in the scene at the party when Sam is making him a milk shake. Charlie tells her about Michael's suicide without showing any emotion.
Chbosky: There's the script that you write, the film that you film, and then there's the film you create in post production.
Chbosky: Even the most lonely shy person you've ever met in your life . . . wants to have a great life and they want to be triumphant in their schools and how it does always work out but if you stick in there and you fight a little longer, it will work out
Chbosky: This is the story of a writer finding his voice.
Chbosky: One of the things about Perks that I wanted to do as a novelist and as a filmmaker [was to describe] all the highs and all the lows and all the secrets that young people have and they keep. When I think about that moment when Charlie's sister gets hit and the instant forgiveness. And one of the things that was important to me as a story teller was to talk about how when problems exist in families and you don't root them out and you don't sift through them they repeat themselves. And if little kids like Charlie and Candace . . . saw their Aunt Helen go through abuse if it's something that doesn't become tragic it's something that becomes normal. And how we do ourselves a great service and do our families a great service if we bring these things out into the light and talk about them and try to be the last person in our family to go through it.
Chbosky: In a book you can take 75 pages to describe something that will be just a moment in the movie.
Chbosky: We cannot change where we come from but we can change what we will become.
Additional Discussion Questions
8. Why didn't Charlie ever ask Sam out on a date? Suggested Response: He was going to and then Mary Elizabeth happened. After Mary Elizabeth he was probably too scared.
9. Stephen Chbosky, the author of the book who also directed the film, has described one of the life-lessons of the film in the following way. What do you think about this statement:
If you just reach out and you present yourself exactly as your are, the right people are going to say yes to you and the right people are going to befriend you and the right people are going to accept you and you can make great friends forever.
Suggested Response:There is no one correct answer. Some students will agree and some will disagree. The purpose behind the question is to get students thinking about the question.
10. Sam said that she thought that one day, "I'd see a person across the room and I'd know everything was ok." What type of thinking does this demonstrate? Suggested Response: There is no one correct response. One strong responses is that this thought is an example of magical thinking. Another is that the thought is an example of romanticism. The basic concept is that it's not realistic. Good relationshps are made by loving partners who do whatever work is necessary to make the relationship strong.
11. How would you describe Charlie's family and its affect on Charlie? Suggested Response: Adjectives that could be used are: close, loving, concerned, supportive, helpful, and life-saving. Some students might describe the family as blind or unable to observe because they didn't notice what Helen was doing to Charlie. This is unfortunately true of many situations in which children are abused.
12. Describe some of the evidence of Charlie suffering from some type of mental illness. Suggested Response: There are many, but here are a few: seeing disturbing images in his mind; uncontrollable rage when someone is going to hurt a friend (this rage was so strong that he beat up three seniors); obsessiveness, as when he is calling everyone after the break-up with Mary Elizabeth; blackouts; crying, suicidal thoughts. Also, the audience sees Charlie taking medication.
13. What does Charlie mean when he says that he feels infinite? Suggested Response: He is accepted by his friends and this connection makes everything right with the world.
14. What is the moment in this story when Charlie gets a chance to become a hero? Why did you select this occasion? Suggested Response: There are many answers to this question. The justifications for the choice should refer to themes of the story. The author/director chose the night at the football game when Charlie went to sit near Patrick in the hopes of striking up a conversation.
15. Had Charlie gone to the football game and not changed his seat to be near Patrick, what would have happened? Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer. Good responses will include: there would have been no story; he never would have met Patrick or Sam; he would have stayed friendless for a while longer. Mr. Chbosky put it this way, "He could have stayed in his seat for the next three hours and hate the fact that he would never get up."
16. Why was Charlie contemplating suicide? Suggested Response: There is no one correct answer. The best answers will refer to themes of the story. One good answer is that the repressed memories of what his Aunt Helen had done to him were coming to the surface and they were so painful that he could not bear them. In addition, all his friends were leaving school and going off to college; he was facing the next two or three years alone and while this was not enough for suicide, it was a contributing factor.
17. Who or what are the antagonists in this story? Suggested Response: There are several. For Charlie they include: Charlie's isolation; the adolescent culture which allows kids to be shunned, insulted and bullied; the effects of the injury that Charlie suffered at the hands of Aunt Helen. For Patrick, the antagonist is the prejudice against gays. For Sam the antagonist is her lack of self-esteem.
18. Who or what are the protagonists of this story and what are they seeking? Suggested Response: Charlie is the chief protagonist, but there are at least two others. Charlie is seeking acceptance and friendship, love, and to recover from the injuries caused to him by Aunt Helen and by Michael's suicide. Patrick is seeking to recover from the loss of his relationship with Brad, specifically, and generally he confronts prejudice against gays. Sam is seeking love and to redeem herself after her first disastrous years in high school.
19. In the fight between Candace and her boyfriend, what did she do to provoke him? Is this question of any importance in determining the blame for this incident? Suggested Response: She insulted him and then she hit him on the chest ineffectually, doing absolutely no harm. She kept at him after he asked her to stop. That is no excuse for Pony Tail Derek's action in hitting Candace. Boys should never hit girls; men should never hit women. For that matter, women shouldn't hit men but due to the fact that the average male is much stronger than the average female, it's orders of magnitude worse for a man or a boy to hit a woman or a girl.
20. John Malkovich, a well known actor who was a producer of this movie, said that in a movie, "when you have heart you don't need sentiment." What did he mean by that? Give an example from the film. Suggested Response: The basic concept is that when the story evokes feelings that flow from the heart of the audience, the actors and the filmmakers don't have to work at showing the sentiment; understated presentations (acting, music, lighting etc.) will work much better. The imagination of the audience supplies the emotion. One example is when Charlie is telling Sam about Michael's suicide.
21. People have a tendency to repeat flawed relationships. Does that apply to the relationship between Charlie and Sam? Explain your reasoning. Suggested Response: The following is a theory and there are counter arguments that students may come up with: Sam is an older nurturing female, as Aunt Helen was older and claimed to be nurturing. Sam gives Charlie what she thought was his first kiss in order that it be given by someone who loved him. She gave him a typewriter and an instruction to write, to assist him in developing his talents as a writer. Charlie describes Aunt Helen as his best friend, until he met Sam. There is definitely an element of repetition in Charlie's relationship with Sam; but it is also common for young boys to have strong feelings for older girls. The obvious difference between the two relationships is that because Charlie is older now and because of his relative closeness in age with Sam, the relationship with Sam is not tainted with sexual abuse. That makes all the difference. Note, however, that if Sam had been over 18, in many jurisdictions, she could have been prosecuted for child sexual abuse of Charlie who was probably 15 or 16. Prosecutions based on this type of age difference have been known to occur on rare occasions.
22. In the cafeteria, why did Charlie become so enraged that he could beat three senior football players and then not remember what he did? Suggested Response: Any well-reasoned answer will suffice. Here is one possible answer: Charlie had been so hurt by his Aunt Helen and he loved Patrick so much that he couldn't bear Patrick being hurt. The reason that this incident is tied to the abuse that Charlie had suffered is that he blacked out. The fact that Charlie was defending his friend was no reason for him to black out. However, at that point his mind was repressing everything that related to the sexual abuse. Seeing Patrick attacked brought that issue up for him and since it was too close to the surface his mind repressed the memory.
23. This film has an expository phase. Where does it end and what do we know by the time that occurs? Suggested Response: It ends at the end of the first letter, where we see the words, "Love, Charlie". What we know includes something about Charlie's background, about his supportive family, Charlie's hopes for the school year, and his isolation at school.
24. After the "truth or dare" debacle, Charlie has lost the acceptance of the group, most importantly Patrick and Sam didn't want to see him. He panics and calls people frequently. He tells Mary Elizabeth that "I get so messed up inside like I'm not there." What is Charlie experiencing? Describe it. Suggested Response: Dissociation, which is detachment from immediate surroundings. A severe form involves detachment from physical and emotional experience.
25. Most seniors in high school won't even talk to a freshman. Why did Patrick, Sam, and Mary Elizabeth, all of whom were seniors, allow Charlie into their circle of friends? Suggested Response: A good discussion will mention the following two points. First, these were just really nice and compassionate kids. The toast in which Patrick formally welcomes Charlie into their circle of friends, occurred right after Sam told Patrick about the suicide of Charlie's best friend and that she didn't think Charlie had any friends. The second reason was that these seniors were very low in the social pecking order of the school. Patrick refers to their parties as "The Island of the Misfit Toys". Seniors with higher social standing would probably have been afraid that they would lower their position in school society by associating with a freshman, especially one who had been in a mental hospital the year before.
26. For each of the items of dialog below, describe its role in the development of plot or characterization or its relation to theme. Suggested Response:
You can't just sit there and put everyone elses' life ahead of yours and call it love.
27. What was the significance of Charlie giving Sam the books? What was the significance of Charlie giving Sam the typewriter? Suggested Response: Charlie gave Sam the books that had been important to him to give her part of himself. Sam gave Charlie a typewriter to encourage hhim to become self-realized.
This one moment when you know you are not a sad story and you're alive.
Charlie: My aunt had that same thing done to her two and she turned her life around.
Sam:She must have been great. Charlie: She was my favorite person in the world until now.
I don't know if I'll have time to write another letter, I'll be too busy participating.
In this moment I saw we are infinite . .
The weird kid who spent time in the hospital . . .
See Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.
Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions
See Discussion Questions #s 2, 3, 5,11 & 16.
See Discussion Questions #s 4 & 14.
1. What should Charlie have done when Patrick suddenly kissed him on the mouth? Suggested Response: Pretty much what he did, which was to still be his friend. Patrick was despondent and not really thinking of what he was doing. Sometimes people just do inexplicable and stupid things. Had Patrick persisted, then it would have been a different mattter.
2. What will it take for Brad to come out of the closet and to acknowledge to his friends and family that he is attracted to males rather than females? Suggested Response: It will take maturity and acceptance of himself for who he is. It may take him moving away to be physically distant. A group of supportive friends would also be helpful. Support networks such as It Gets Better Project can also help.
See also Discussion Questions 17 & 18.
See Discussion Questions #s 1, 9 & 24.
See Discussion Questions #s 1, 6, 8, 10, 19, & 21.
See Discussion Questions #s 7, 12, 16 & 22.
See Discussion Questions #s 12 & 16.
(Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)
See Discussion Questions #s 1, 9 & 24.
See also Discussion Questions which Explore Ethical Issues Raised by Any Film.
Bridges to Reading:
While it's best for this film to be shown after students have read the book, they will also enjoy reading the book after seeing the movie.
Links to the Internet
Common Core State Standards that can be Served by this Learning Guide
(Anchor Standards only)
Multimedia: Anchor Standard #7 for Reading (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). (The three Anchor Standards read: "Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media, including visually and quantitatively as well as in words.") CCSS pp. 35 & 60. See also Anchor Standard # 2 for ELA Speaking and Listening, CCSS pg. 48.
Reading: Anchor Standards #s 1, 2, 7 and 8 for Reading and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 35 & 60.
Writing: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 5 and 7- 10 for Writing and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 41 & 63.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 3 (for ELA classes). CCSS pg. 48.
Not all assignments reach all Anchor Standards. Teachers are encouraged to review the specific standards to make sure that over the term all standards are met.
Selected Awards, Cast and Director
Selected Awards: None.
Featured Actors: Logan Lerman as Charlie; Emma Watson as Sam;
Ezra Miller as Patrick; Johnny Simmons as Brad;
Mae Whitman as Mary Elizabeth;
Nina Dobrev as Candace;
Erin Wilhelmi as Alice; Adam Hagenbuch as Bob;
Dylan McDermott as Father; Paul Rudd as Mr. Anderson;
Kate Walsh as Mother;
Nicholas Braun as Ponytail Derek
Tom Savini as Mr. Callahan
Leo Miles Farmerie as 7-Year-Old Charlie;
Isabel Muschweck as 9-Year-Old Candace.
Director: Stephen Chbosky.
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