The American novelist Stephen Chbosky specifically thought of presenting a distinct indication on how youths survive the challenge of being a ‘wallflower’, not necessarily being wanted nor being wanted by anyone either. Introversion, this is a common theme that defines the overall narrative of the story. Nevertheless, it could be realized that as the story develops, it is shown that being such a kind of person has its perks and advantages that makes life a bit more exciting at a rather relative condition that makes it easier for a youth to survive the challenge being able to fit in the picture with his peers. The theme of being an introvert and the way it is presented in the novel and in the film of The Perks of Being a Wallflower specifically calls into attention the valuing of how audience-reaction is considered in each work.
Through the eyes of Charlie, Chbosky tries to bring life to the specific concerns that teenagers usually have to deal with especially in relation to connecting with their peers and getting involved with groups of their interest. To be able to define the course of life Charlie is taking, Chbosky uses letters as the means of presentation addressed by the main character to an anonymous individual. Through descriptive words, Chbosky tries to get the attention of the readers allowing them to become part of the narration as well. Considered as a typical ‘nerd’, Charlie is considered to be among the most unpopular individuals who have specifically been set aside by the class because of the difference they have from the others. Being an intellectually defined individual, Charlie is more concerned on his studies that with the idea of becoming popular or receiving the recognition he specifically deserves. Unlike his peers, he would rather spend his time studying than spending time with friends and getting out at night for parties. This does not mean though that he does not like to have friends or be involved in some with others. However, because of being shy, Charlie settles for what is available and what the chances have to offer for him to enjoy especially in relation to how he chooses the people he becomes friends with. The treatment on how Charlie specifically handles his situation and how specifically involved he has become with two of his closest friends provides a relative connection to the realities that teenagers usually deal with at present. This is perhaps the reason why the transition of the book towards becoming a movie did not create so much difference. The messages wanted to be sent out by the writer were the same messages that the director wanted to show his audience.
Discussed herein are some of the primary differences that specifically define the separation of the film’s plot from that of the story’s setup. One of such differences could be accounted on Charlie’s character. While the novel defines Charlie to be the classical ‘nerd’ who wants to stay away from everyone else due to his shyness, the movie presents him to be a lot funnier and bolder. He also wallows a lot less in the movie compared to that of the kind of character he is known for in the novel. Perhaps to create a more relative picture for the viewers, the Charlie character in the movie specifically has a capacity to relax the mental state of the audience rather than stressing them with the many behavioral complications that Charlie posses in the story.
In the novel, it could also be noted that Charlie’s family plays a great role. Their existence is considered important in showing the different attitudes of Charlie and the way he develops his perception about particular matters through time. However, in the film such involvement of Charlie’s family in the story is set aside so as to not take away the limelight on Charlie and his two other friends. In this case, it could be realized that while the novel wants to point out that the family background of a person plays a great role on how the behavior of a person develops, the film director wants to focus more on how peers could alleviate the situation and give better options to individuals feeling the frustrations of being an introvert as they grow towards maturity. The teacher of Charlie, in the person of Professor Bill, was more developed in the film compared to the treatment that his character receives in the story. Considering that the movie wants to show more on how the external environment of Charlie affects his personal being and development, improving the way Professor Bill’s character is presented to have a greater impact on Charlie’s growth is considered rather important. Like any other professor dealing with teenage students, Bill is shown to be the one to have ignited the passion among his students especially among individuals like Charlie; giving them the chance to realize their worth at a better light. Another difference is the treatment of the scene of the ‘landslide’ whereas the presentation of slow and tragic condition of the scenario is supposed to create a full fervor on the character of the three teens whereas the meaning becomes more infinite giving the story a whole new meaning.
Presenting Charlie to be more religious in the film apart from that of the actual setup of the story where his family background is pointed out to have some basis on atheism especially on the part of his grandfather. On the part where Charlie provides Patrick with a suicidal poem, it was removed on the film. Relatively reducing the dreadful events on the story to ease out the plot for the viewers makes the movie more acceptable and specifically entertaining than disturbing.
Considering the different points of comparison and differentiation between the plot of the story used in the film and the book, it could be analyzed that most of the differences account for the audiences to whom the works are dedicated to. For instance, readers have more time to seek a relative understanding of the entire narration especially on the way they ought to perceive every turn of event in the story. This is however impossible for those viewing the movie; the audience are compromised to realize the value of the story based on what the directors want to send out as means of message for them to analyze. While readers are able to deduct the meaning of each event more deeply, viewers are more confined to what the creators want to show them. Considerably, it is this particular point of presentation that makes it harder for film makers to insert every detail that is stipulated in most reading materials.
Another matter of concern is the desire to entertain the viewers. It could be noticed that particular adjustments to the treatment of the characters and the deduction of particular scenarios presented in the novel compared to what is presented in the movie accounts for the improvement on how the viewers are to be entertained. While the viewers are given the chance to decipher the movie according to how the story relates to them, it is evident how the process of learning becomes more considerably recognized in the novel than in the film. Hoping that the readers would understand the story better, the novel goes into the option of detailing particular issues that relate to the being of each character. In the creation of the movie though, it could be understood that the issues are lessened to help the audience become more focused on particular points of consideration that director wants to enhance in the story.
Overall, the movie and the novel on The Perks of being a Wallflower distinctively identifies well with the frustrations that most teens undergo. Not everyone becomes popular, not everyone is recognized for what they do best, nevertheless, this does not mean that not everyone is given the chance to become the best they could be. Embracing their uniqueness is the best resolution to the frustrations these individuals have to deal with. Understandably, as the movie suggests, teens need to belong, not to everyone else, but with individuals who have real value towards their being. It is through this realization that one becomes accustomed to the need of being unique and accepting such matter accordingly as part of their being thus succeeding according to such self-status.
- Beckerman, Marty. “An Interview with Stephen Chbosky”. Word Riot. Word Riot.
- Chbosky, Stephen (1999). The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Pocket Books, New York.
- Edelstein, David (24 Sep 2012). “Freshman Disorientation; The Perks of being a Wallflower nails teenage alienation”. New York.
- Ratcliff, Ashley (18 Feb 2013). “‘The perks of being’ a filmmaker”. Home Media Magazine.