The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Summary and Analysis of January 1, 1992 - February 9, 1992

January 1, 1992

Charlie tries LSD and has a very bad experience with the drug. The world as he sees it begins to spin, and he ends up spending a large portion of the night shoveling snow. In the letter, he reflects on the commonality of experiences, a commonality which can at times be considered unity. Charlie is distraught, and his emotions are changing rapidly. He can hear Craig and Sam having sex, and he says that he finally understands the end of the poem. "I never wanted to. You have to believe me," he writes (230).

January 4, 1992

Charlie doesn't remember much of the last letter that he wrote, but he knows that he mailed it because he spent part of the night frantically searching for a stamp. He had worried that if he didn't send it then, he would never have the courage to send it at all. He woke in a hospital room after being found in the snow by a police officer. He didn't tell his family why he had ended up in the snow because he didn't want his friends to get in trouble, but his family didn't press the issue. Charlie could hear them whispering that he needs to start seeing a psychiatrist again. When he gets home, his entire family tries to comfort and support him. His sister even offers to help him with his hair, which he had begun cutting haphazardly during the LSD trip. Charlie decides to never take LSD again.

January 14, 1992

Charlie is still having trouble recovering from his LSD trip, and the world continues to spin and disorient him. Sam and Patrick help him to regain control and focus, explaining an idea of a "trance," which can sometimes last much longer than one would expect. Now that his world has stabilized, Charlie doesn't feel like a "big faker" for trying to put his life back together. Even better news, Bill has decided that Charlie's latest paper on The Catcher in the Rye is Charlie's best paper yet.

January 25, 1992

Charlie feels great in this letter, and he wants to channel this feeling for the next time that he goes through a really awful spell. He wants to make sure that he can remember that things will get better. He is also enjoying the time he spends with his psychiatrist; together, they talk about Charlie's thoughts and recollections. Charlie has also continued to enjoy his conversations with his friends. After an extended conversation about music and categorization, Charlie writes, "I don't know what it was, and I know we didn't really accomplish anything, but it felt so great to sit there and talk about our place in things" (250).

February 2, 1992

After Charlie finishes On the Road as a reward from Bill (meaning no paper), the two meet to talk about the book and about life in general. Bill shares some details of his own - where he went to college and more information on his love life - and Charlie is delighted that he has had so many great conversations in the recent past. When he returns home, he can't find a place where he isn't bothering anyone. His sister is watching a television program, his mother doesn't need help in the kitchen, and his father doesn't want to be bothered during a televised hockey game.

February 8, 1992

Mary Elizabeth has asked Charlie to the Sadie Hawkins dance. Charlie believes that she started liking him after he helped create a color edition of Punk Rocky. Later, Charlie fills in for Craig in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Charlie writes that he had the best time of his life performing with all his friends. Mary Elizabeth then asks him to the dance, telling him that he looked very good in his costume during the performance. Charlie asks his sister for dating advice, but she seems distracted and stares off into space.

February 9, 1992

Charlie admits that even though he knew Sam would never ask him to the dance, he had still hoped that she would be jealous upon discovering that he was going with Mary Elizabeth. She is nothing of the sort - in fact, she is happy for Charlie. Sam then gives Charlie a lot of advice about listening and being respectful, as well as a lot of advice that is specific to Mary Elizabeth.


Charlie's bad experience with LSD forces him and his family to confront the darkness that has been present in Charlie's mind. Even more is revealed about Charlie's mental state through his parents' reaction to his hospitalization. Even though his parents do not realize that Charlie took LSD, they do not probe as to why he was found outside in the snow. It seems possible that Charlie could have made this decision without drugs, and therefore Charlie does not need to tell them that he tried LSD. Their response shows just how frayed Charlie's mental wellbeing is.

Once again, Charlie leans on his friends for support. When the acid trip doesn't seem to end and his world continues to spin, Charlie goes to Sam and Patrick for help. After they comfort him and talk him down, Charlie slowly starts to feel better. This shows that his friends are healers and comforters who can help him recover from lapses in sanity. Their importance to Charlie's health continues to be reinforced as the novel continues.

The aid provided by Sam and Patrick is juxtaposed against Charlie's inability to fit in with his own family. As he moves from room to room, trying to spend time with a family member, he discovers that his loved ones cannot be bothered with him; all of them ask him to leave or go with someone else. While it's easy for him to find his place with his friends, he struggles to find a niche within his family. The absence of his friends over winter break only exacerbates these feelings of alienation.

In terms of romance, Charlie is asked to the Sadie Hawkins dance by Mary Elizabeth. This is the first time that Charlie is presented with a potential sexual experience (beyond fantasies and masturbation), yet his position as a "wallflower" is only reinforced in this relationship, since Mary Elizabeth loves to talk and doesn't need much of an impetus to go on a tangent. In the beginning, this is a comfortable relationship for Charlie because he is not forced to speak up or offer his own opinions . He can just sit back, observe and listen.

Ironically, Charlie's relationship with Mary Elizabeth reveals more about Charlie's feelings for Sam. Even though he claims that his love is mature and deep, he immaturely hopes that Sam will be jealous of his new relationship. Sam, however, is not, and instead she gives Charlie an abundance of advice about dating Mary Elizabeth. Charlie adjusts his expectations and his conception of Sam, and he is now very happy to just be able to spend time with her, in any capacity.