Perks Of Being A Wallflower: Literary Techniques In A Novel

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Through the use of various literary techniques in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky explores the theme of belonging, fitting in, and feeling like an outcast. Chbosky’s use of a first-person narrative allows the reader to clearly grasp Charlie’s emotions and understand his struggles with belonging and ‘participating, in life. Chbosky’s use of intertextual references also assists the reader in understand Charlie’s emotions, by allowing for a comparison in themes between books. The use of foreshadowing affects the novel by adding depth to Charlie’s character and allowing for a better understanding of who he is, and why he behaves the way he does, especially in social situations where he struggles to participate.

By using a characters point of view as the narrative perspective, Stephen Chbosky develops the theme of belonging in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The clarity of Charlie’s experiences in his community, in regard to belonging and feeling like an outcast, allows the readers to understand his emotions and to make connections on how Charlie’s experiences have affected his current position, and reflect on their own personal situation. “…So, I just sat there with a bottle of champagne near the CD player… It was a great way to sit alone at a party and still feel a part of things.” Charlie’s offhand comments about his behaviour, particularly in social situations, allow readers to grasp his struggle with ‘participating’. The narrative perspective allows for an understanding of the depth of Charlie’s emotions by directly showing his struggle to adjust in certain situations. The use of a first-person narrative perspective allows the reader to gain a deeper understanding of Charlie’s emotions, and understand his struggle with fitting in and feeling like an outcast

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The use of foreshadowing by Chbosky, adds depth to the main characters experiences, and allows the readers to better understand his experiences with belonging and feeling like an outcast. Foreshadowing intensifies the story and allows readers to, in hindsight, better understand Charlie’s attitude to participating and belonging. Charlie’s frequent flashbacks to Aunt Helen serve as foreshadowing to the later revealed abuse he suffered at her hands. Through her behaviour, Aunt Helen made Charlie different to his siblings and possibly triggered the beginning of Charlie’s behaviour now, not assertive, passive, and struggling to fit in and belong. Her abuse had a lasting psychological impact on Charlie’s behaviour and it’s only when he remembers the events and gets the necessary closure at the end of the novel, that he resolves to begin participating in his community. The use of foreshadowing allows readers to understand Charlie and his behaviour and struggle with belonging.

Through the incorporation of intertextuality, Chbosky assists the reader in understanding the themes of belonging and feeling like an outcast. Throughout the story, Chbosky references various texts, by assigning them as reading material for Charlie. The plot and themes of the books, and Charlie’s reaction to them, allows the reader to understand his emotions regarding belonging and feeling like an outcast. “I have spent the whole vacation reading Hamlet. … it was helpful to know that someone else has been through it.” Charlie seeks comfort in Hamlet’s experience, being considered mad and an outcast by other characters in his story. Charlie believes that, like Hamlet, there is something wrong with him and this, among other things, prevent him from ‘participating’ in life properly. The catcher in the Rye is another book read multiple times by Charlie. The Catcher in the Rye contains themes of fitting in and outcasts. By referencing this book and it’s themes, and making it important to Charlie, Chbosky helps the audience understand Charlie’s struggles regarding participating In life. Chbosky’s use of intertextuality in The Perks of Being a Wallflower allows the reader to develop a deeper interpretation of Charlie’s emotions regarding belonging and fitting in, and helps make connections between the main themes of the referenced texts and Charlie’s reaction to them and the readers personal experiences.

Chbosky’s use of various literary techniques in his depiction of Charlie allow the reader to fully understand and connect with his experiences regarding belonging and feeling like an outcast. His use of a first-person narrative allows for clarity and assist the reader in connecting Charlie’s experiences with their own. Chbosky’s incorporation of novels into the story helps the reader better understand Charlie’s character, by connecting themes from the texts. His use of foreshadowing also allows the reader to grasp why Charlie behaves in certain ways, and connect that to their own experiences elating to feeling like an outcast. Chbosky’s use of literary techniques allows readers to understand Charlie’s character and experience fitting in, and relate them to their own lives. 


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