Perks of Wallflower Charlie

Nov 27

Genre Study

           

          For my genre study for #teachread I used Tumblr as my platform to explore The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This somehow made my relationship with the book a bit more intimate and special. Had I just read the book and decided to only keep the text in mind and merely write out my analyses on a sheet of paper, I probably would not have been even close to artistically expressing my reactions to the book like I did on Tumblr. Though I have been using Tumblr for my personal blog as a musician, it is not my main social media platform, so I have never explored Tumblr thoroughly before I did my genre study. Through exploring my YA novel, I was able to learn more about the Tumblr blogging experience.

            Like Twitter, Tumblr uses the # hashtag function and so just by searching the hashtag of my YA novel, I was able to access thousands and thousands of posts by others who posted something about the book. I was fascinated to find so many fan-made images of various Charlie quotes from the book. It was interesting to see that there were a lot more of these visual representations that included actual text from the book than clips and snapshots from the screen adaptation. Most, if not all, of these posts were posted by adolescents that really enjoyed the book and were deeply touched and influenced by Charlie’s words.

            I was excited to see that for some of my posts, I received many “notes” in which people either liked or reblogged my post. Knowing this, I became more cautious with what I posted; having an audience made me put much more effort and thought into what I was writing. However, I was disappointed to realize that almost everybody who reblogged my post only included the picture file of my post and none of the text. Tumblr gives you the option to delete or even edit the text of the original post. Even though Tumblr tracks where posts were reblogged from, I feel that this manipulative option takes away the original intent of the creation of the post.

            Other than the reblogging option, I feel that Tumblr is a very visual social media platform compared to other platforms such as Twitter and Facebook that are focused more on instant communication. Tumblr to me feels like an art gallery with the spotlight on picture posts that can also include text, videos, etc. With the option to change the “look and feel” of your theme of your blog, everything you present is artistically expressive. I feel that incorporating this platform to the classroom will be useful in allowing students to bring out their creative sides and have the freedom to present their reflections in multimodal ways. Through my exploration of Tumblr, I was shocked to find that a huge part of the Tumblr population was adolescents and that they included creative posts about books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower on their blogs. As more and more adolescents today use social media to express themselves and create their identity, utilizing these platforms into the English classroom will definitely help students not only become engaged with the texts being studied, but also truly enjoy the process.

Another attractive feature for students is that social media is open to the public; their posts can be seen not only by their teachers and classmates, but also by the whole world. And by presenting these posts as an art form, their ideas, reflections, reactions, and opinions are infinite. Since I know that my posts about my YA novel will remain online for thousands to freely access it as long as I leave it up there, the novel leaves a lasting impression on me, giving purpose to my interactions with it.


Nov 14
#teachread Looking back again; Charlie’s last entry:
"I just don’t want you to worry about me, or think that you’ve met me, or waste your time anymore. I’m so sorry that I wasted your time because you really do mean a lot to me and I hope you have a very nice life because I really think you deserve it. I really do. I hope you do, too. Okay, then. Goodbye.
Love always,
Charlie”
In the epilogue, we find out that after writing this entry, Charlie was hospitalized. Just when things seem to be alright, Charlie struggles again, but then he overcomes it again by observing everybody around him. He realizes that there are some people, like his brother and sister, that make it seem like everything is going to be alright. He knows that we are all who we are because we decide to be and that we will always have our times knowing and not knowing who we are. And that it’s OK to laugh and cry at the same time, because at this moment, we are all infinite. 

#teachread Looking back again; Charlie’s last entry:

"I just don’t want you to worry about me, or think that you’ve met me, or waste your time anymore. I’m so sorry that I wasted your time because you really do mean a lot to me and I hope you have a very nice life because I really think you deserve it. I really do. I hope you do, too. Okay, then. Goodbye.

Love always,

Charlie”

In the epilogue, we find out that after writing this entry, Charlie was hospitalized. Just when things seem to be alright, Charlie struggles again, but then he overcomes it again by observing everybody around him. He realizes that there are some people, like his brother and sister, that make it seem like everything is going to be alright. He knows that we are all who we are because we decide to be and that we will always have our times knowing and not knowing who we are. And that it’s OK to laugh and cry at the same time, because at this moment, we are all infinite. 



#teachread Charlie writes this as he continues to struggle with his consciousness of his surroundings and his awareness of who he is and who he should be or wants to be. I feel that “wanting to sleep for a thousand years” “or just not exist” is not only something that adolescents feel, but also something that people of all ages feel. We all have our moments at various difficult stages whether its puberty or midlife crisis when we question our existence and when we just want to disappear. It is Charlie’s recognition and realization of these types of feelings and his courage to express these emotions that make readers of all ages relate to him and ultimately grow fond of him. 

#teachread Charlie writes this as he continues to struggle with his consciousness of his surroundings and his awareness of who he is and who he should be or wants to be. I feel that “wanting to sleep for a thousand years” “or just not exist” is not only something that adolescents feel, but also something that people of all ages feel. We all have our moments at various difficult stages whether its puberty or midlife crisis when we question our existence and when we just want to disappear. It is Charlie’s recognition and realization of these types of feelings and his courage to express these emotions that make readers of all ages relate to him and ultimately grow fond of him. 


Nov 13

Grandfather’s Tears

#teachread Charlie’s entry on his family and relatives watching his brother’s football game:

"The whole family was gathered around the TV, even my great aunts, who never watched football. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces when my brother took the field…everyone was proud…I looked up at my dad, and he was smiling. I looked at my mom, and she was smiling even though she was nervous about my brother getting hurt, which was strange because it was a VCR tape of an old game, and she knew he didn’t get hurt. My great aunts and my cousins and their children and everyone were also smiling. Even my sister. There were only two people who weren’t smiling. My grandfather and I.

My grandfather was crying. 

The kind of crying that is quiet and a secret. The kind of crying that only I noticed. I thought about him going into my mom’s room when she was little and hitting my mom and holding up her report card and saying that her bad grades would never happen again. And I think now that maybe he meant my older brother. Or my sister. Or me. That he would make sure that he was the last one to work in a mill.”

*****************************

I became very emotional after reading this part of Charlie’s entry. There is this one moment of shared love that the whole family has towards Charlie’s brother which seems to be even more touching because Charlie knows that their relationships with each other have been far from loving. Charlie’s brother and sister always fight with each other, Charlie’s father is hard on his sons, and Charlie’s grandfather is always very strict, tough, stern, and intimidating. But in this moment, everybody is proud of Charlie’s brother. I believe that many mothers can relate to Charlie’s mother’s reaction, and that the teenagers that are reading this book may wonder or wish that their own mother would feel the same if they were in a similar situation. I found it especially touching that not only did Charlie’s grandfather show his sensitive side, but Charlie also realizes that his grandfather must have always been strict on purpose, to discipline his children and grandchildren so that they won’t go through similar life struggles as he did. 


Nov 9

#teachread Charlie’s last letter comes to life as it is narrated on screen. Sadly, due to some recent unfortunate events and limited theater screenings, I couldn’t see The Perks of Being a Wallflower the movie yet, but judging from this video and the movie trailer, I could feel that this movie has successfully captured at least the essence of the book. And of course it should be, since Stephen Chbosky directed the movie himself. Listening to this clip, I felt much more emotional hearing Charlie’s last letter through a voice compared to when I read it on the page. Though we all know books are always better than movies, I do believe that certain moments are captured differently with a new charm when brought to life. Bringing together the audio and visual with the written word enlightens engagement further when we use all our senses.

          In his last letter, Charlie states that he was in a bad place before he started high school and that writing to his “friend” helped him to go through it all without feeling alone. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic at this because I have used writing as my therapy since the day I could write sentences, and all those countless diaries and journals have helped and are still helping me cope with life’s struggles. Charlie also writes honestly  without sugarcoating or trying to hide any of his insecurities and sensitivities. It is hard to hate him in any way. Most teenagers would be able to relate to him while also being able to read through all his letters without difficulties. This book will definitely be a useful and engaging source to include in various literary practices in which adolescent students can not only construct character analyses and themes, but they can also find motivation and inspiration to reflect and start writing themselves and enjoy the process.


From The Perks of Being a Wallflower #teachread

From The Perks of Being a Wallflower #teachread


Oct 15

Charlie’s Trauma

"I asked Aunt Helen where she was going…she finally shook her head, smiled, and whispered in my ear. ‘I’m going to buy your birthday present.’ That’s the last time I ever saw her…despite everything my mom and doctor and dad have said to me about blame, I can’t stop thinking what I know. And I know that my aunt Helen would still be alive today if she just bought me one present like everybody else. She would be alive if I were born on a day that didn’t snow. I would do anything to make this go away. I miss her terribly. I have to stop writing now because I am too sad.

Love always,

Charlie”

Yesterday, I went to a memorial park to visit someone that is very special to me. As I left flowers at His side, I felt the usual heartache along with an emptiness that I usually try to hide. When I came back home, I opened “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” again and flipped to this entry in which Charlie writes about his favorite aunt Helen’s death. Having experienced death in my family myself, I couldn’t help but feel so much empathy towards Charlie. Throughout his letters, it is revealed that his “sensitive condition” was caused initially by this trauma of the death of a loved one. He had experienced this at a much younger age than I did. While I was reading through all his letters that hold his fears, insecurities, anxieties, and sensitivities, I wanted to speak to him and embrace him with true words of encouragement. Many people who have not experienced such tragedy are oblivious to the pains of “emptiness” along with guilt and despair that Charlie feels. Though Charlie seems to find sanctuary among new friends and through improved relationships with his family, even his last words in his last letter of “I just don’t want you to worry about me” screams out to me just how much care and love he still needs. 


Oct 5

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This semester for #teachread @NYU I’m indulging in The Perks of Being a Wallflower By Stephen Chboksy. Charlie is a timeless character, one that will linger in your heart for a long time. At first it feels as if you are in the head of a naive teenager, but then you begin to really understand Charlie’s struggles. Charlie’s narration through his letters to his “friend” is simple but full of heartfelt emotions and almost-explicit observations. Tis a quick read that makes you become immersed in getting to know and love Charlie rather than trying to judge and criticize aspects of his character that make him a wallflower.