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I just watched the new movie with Emma Watson, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower".

The central theme of the movie is the relationship between Charlie and his aunt. He has been traumatized by her death, which he seems to feel responsible for, and has recurring flashbacks of her.

I am not completely sure that I understood what was going on with him and her. Did she sexually abuse him? If so, and he actually wished her death, why did he say to Sam that she (his aunt) was his favorite person ever?

Also, what is the part about his best friend having killed himself? Who is he referring to?

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Just asking out of curiosity, why Emma Watson is tagged to this question? This question is about the movie but not the person, right? –  chaitanya89 Dec 9 at 12:33
No particular reason really, I guess I just didn't know how to tag properly back then. ;) Feel free to remove the tag. –  atticae Dec 9 at 12:35
Honestly, I don't have any problem and I like her. So, I won't be removing the tag ;) –  chaitanya89 Dec 9 at 12:38

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The movie is fairly faithful to Stephen Chbosky's book, and in this reader's guide from shmoop (like Cliffs Notes or Spark Notes):

Charlie thinks about his mom's sister a lot. He even visits her grave, telling her secrets that he only shares in his letters. So why does he love and trust her so much? He thinks it's because she was one of the few people who bought him two gifts at the holidays—one for Christmas and one for his birthday, which was Christmas Eve. He thinks it's because she died in a car accident on Charlie's seventh birthday when she went to buy his birthday present. He thinks it's because he's guilty for her death...

Growing up, Aunt Helen was molested by a friend of the family. When she finally told her parents, they didn't believe her. They did nothing to stop it, and even continued inviting the man into their home. Eventually, Aunt Helen grew up and got away. But of course, the trauma stayed with her: "My aunt Helen drank a lot. My aunt Helen took drugs a lot. My aunt Helen had many problems with men and boys. […] She went to hospitals all the time" (2.13.9).

Victims of abuse often become abusers themselves. And of course, Aunt Helen goes on to molest Charlie. She took advantage of shy, quiet Charlie's love and trust. Charlie forgives her, but it has changed the course of his life forever.

Of best friend Michael Dobson:

As the novel opens, Charlie is still reeling from his best (and probably only) friend Michael's suicide. We never really get to know Charlie and Michael as a duo—all we know is that they went to a few football games and peeped inside their neighbors' windows. Seems like tame high school fun, but maybe Michael was window shopping for a new family.

We're pretty sure Michael exists to show Charlie how not to be. Even though Charlie eventually stops writing about Michael, the suicide still haunts him. When he experiences his own suicidal thoughts, he pleads with the reader, "I never wanted to. You have to believe me" (2.15.12), as if to say, I won't end up like Michael. I won't. Maybe he's trying hard to convince himself of that, too.

Michael is the only character in the book who gets a last name.

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I will quickly give my take on your question:

Firstly, I would say that it is not the only central theme - friendship for one, I think is much more central. But yes, both child abuse, suicide and mental illness are central themes as well.

As the other post mentioned, the aunt, gave him two presents on his birthday, and therefore actually made a big deal about his special day, which is important for such young children. My guess is that she in other manners too paid much attention to him, which probably was not done to many others, as Charlie was a quiet child.

"If so, and he actually wished her death, why did he say to Sam that she (his aunt) was his favorite person ever?"

I think that when he was in the spot, he wished her dead, because he knew that the attention he was getting was wrong, and he didn't know how to stop it. As he says, he is afraid that he killed her, since it was his birthday present she went out to get. This must have caused him a lot of guilt, which is why he keeps telling everyone that she was his favorite person. He probably feels that this is the least he can do to honor her memory.

Now I have only seen the movie. The book might clarify things much more.

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He was most probably molested by his aunt and since he was only a child, those things were a bit cloudy to him. The events were apparently being reminded to him when some situations were done that by his new friends Sam and Patrick.

Sam told Charlie that she was molested by his dad's boss when she was 11. In that context, Charlie told her that his aunt was also molested (instead of him being molested by his aunt) and she turned out to be a nice person and that she was his favorite person. Obviously, Charlie was trying to make Sam not insecure about what happened to her. That she's not alone and everything was gonna be fine despite that event in her past. Even if Charlie changed his story, it reflected his experiences as well.

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Aunt Helen is emotionally and mentally sick. There are no circumstances in which any adult, or anyone else, may take liberties with or violate a child's mind or body, or anyone's mind or body. Any person who behaves in this manner is mentally ill and their conduct is a crime. Molestation is illegal and punishable by law, but only if it is reported.

Sam did NOT "do the same thing". Sam and Charlie are teenagers. If one teenager expresses interest in another teenager, this is an appropriate behavior. It is not all right for any person, however, to take liberties with or violate another person, regardless of age or any other circumstance. If Charlie rejected Sam, this means that Sam may or may not have expressed an interest and Charlie declined. This is not the same as violation.

However, when one person expresses sexual interest of any kind in a person who has been molested (violated), this will pretty much guarantee that memories, whether implicit or otherwise, will be activated, and there will be a reaction, conscious or not.

There is no answer to "Why" a sexual predator such as a molester commits the atrocity against another human being. They are sick, and it is like asking someone why they went and got cancer.

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Erm, that's great, but did you even read the question? Your post has barely any relation to the things I asked. –  atticae Oct 25 '12 at 13:24
no yeah 'jay' actually is making a lot of sense and i understand now (i just watched the movie) why when sam was touching his leg, he got so suprised, it's because the supressed feelings came back again... it makes sense now we dont know how far they went, but it would've struck memory and BAM from the next day, charlie has a dramatic downfall! memories have resurfaced –  user4027 Feb 1 '13 at 14:26

protected by TylerShads Feb 3 '13 at 15:17

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