Who is the antagonist in The Perks of Being a Wallflower?
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Charlie is the main character and protagonist of the novel. He directs the progression of the novel through the letters he writes to an unnamed "friend"; these letters describe Charlie's experiences in high school and at home. Charlie is constantly trying to gain a better understanding of the people around him and why they do what they do - particularly how they present themselves in public. He struggles with his obsession with observation, and is urged by many people - such as Bill, Sam, and Patrick - to participate more and truly engage his acquaintances and companions. Charlie loves to read and often uses the framework of a classic novel to think and reflect upon his own life; he even hopes to become a writer at some point. His teacher Bill encourages him to develop these skills and repeatedly assigns Charlie extra books to read and additional writing exercises. Charlie begins to become more comfortable after he meets Sam, Patrick, and their group of friends, and with their addition to his life he is able to better process past events and experiences.
Charlie struggles with apparent mental illness throughout his letters, but he never explicitly addresses this problem - rather, it lurks in the background of many of his accounts. At the conclusion of the novel, it is revealed that Charlie was sexually abused by his Aunt Helen when he was a child, but that he had internalized and concealed the abuse out of his love for her and as a result of his empathy for Aunt Helen's own problems as a child.