The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Aunt Helen Character Analysis

Charlie’s mom’s sister, Helen was Charlie’s favorite aunt, who moved in with Charlie’s family after a string of abusive relationships. At the end of the novel, Charlie realizes that his aunt molested him every Saturday night while they watched television. Since Charlie represses the memories of his abuse for most of the novel, he generally thinks of Helen as the only person in his otherwise cold family to show Charlie affection, and he also loved that she gave him books to read. Helen was a victim herself of childhood physical and sexual abuse, and the abusive pattern continued in her adult relationships until she eventually molested Charlie. Helen has a recurring role in Charlie’s memories, almost like a ghost of his repressed trauma that continues to haunt him. As both Charlie’s favorite person and his abuser, Helen is representative of the ways in which abusers mask their harmful behavior to make it look like care, sometimes making it hard for victims, like Charlie, to recognize the abuse and to understand appropriate forms of intimacy.

Aunt Helen Quotes in The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The The Perks of Being a Wallflower quotes below are all either spoken by Aunt Helen or refer to Aunt Helen. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Gallery Books edition of The Perks of Being a Wallflower published in 1999.
Part 2  Quotes

When we were all getting ready to leave, I walked up to my grandfather and gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He wiped my lip print off with his palm and gave me a look. He doesn’t like the boys in the family to touch him. But I’m very glad that I did it anyway in case he dies. I never got to do that with my Aunt Helen.

Related Characters: Charlie (speaker), Aunt Helen, Charlie’s Grandfather
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
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It was an old 45 record that had the Beatles’ song “Something.” I used to listen to it all the time when I was little and thinking about grown-up things. I would go to my bedroom window and stare at my reflection in the glass and the trees behind it and just listen to the song for hours. I decided then that when I met someone I thought was as beautiful as the song, I should give it to that person. And I didn’t mean beautiful on the outside. I meant beautiful in all ways. So, I was giving it to Sam.

Related Characters: Charlie (speaker), Aunt Helen, Sam
Related Symbols: Music
Page Number: 68-69
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Part 4 Quotes

“I can't do that anymore. I'm sorry,” I said.

“It's okay, Charlie. Just go to sleep,” Sam said.

But I wasn't talking to Sam anymore. I was talking to someone else. When I fell asleep, I had this dream. My brother and my sister and I were watching television with my Aunt Helen. Everything was in slow motion. The sound was thick. And she was doing what Sam was doing. That's when I woke up. And I didn't know what the hell was going on.

Related Characters: Charlie (speaker), Sam (speaker), Aunt Helen
Page Number: 203-204
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Epilogue Quotes

It's like if I blamed my aunt Helen, I would have to blame her dad for hitting her and the friend of the family that fooled around with her when she was little. And the person that fooled around with him. And God for not stopping all this and things that are much worse. And I did do that for a while, but then I just couldn't anymore. Because it wasn't going anywhere. Because it wasn't the point.

Related Characters: Charlie (speaker), Aunt Helen, Charlie’s Grandfather
Page Number: 211
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Aunt Helen Character Timeline in The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The timeline below shows where the character Aunt Helen appears in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Masculinity and Violence Theme Icon
Healing and Self-discovery through Literature and Writing Theme Icon
Adolescence and Transformation Theme Icon
Charlie’s Aunt Helen , who used to give him books to read, was his favorite person in the... (full context)
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Masculinity and Violence Theme Icon
Adolescence and Transformation Theme Icon
...best friends, he remembers that Michael and Susan were, kind of like Charlie and his Aunt Helen . The only person who does talk to Charlie at school is a bully who... (full context)
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Healing and Self-discovery through Literature and Writing Theme Icon
...Charlie thinks about how his mom was always considered the “pretty one,” while her sister, Aunt Helen , was “the other one.” As he remembers watching television with his siblings and Aunt... (full context)
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Adolescence and Transformation Theme Icon
...odd because he doesn’t even receive hugs from family members very often, especially since his Aunt Helen died. (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Masculinity and Violence Theme Icon
...parents never hit their children. Many years ago, when his dad slapped him after making Aunt Helen cry, his dad apologized and told Charlie about how his stepfather used to hit him.... (full context)
Part 2 
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Masculinity and Violence Theme Icon
...life used to be as a laborer and how he once beat their mother and Aunt Helen for getting Cs on their report cards, demanding that it never happen again. On Thanksgiving,... (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Healing and Self-discovery through Literature and Writing Theme Icon
...“Something” by the Beatles that he gives to Sam. It was a gift from his Aunt Helen . Sam hugs Charlie and tells him that she loves him, and Charlie writes that... (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Healing and Self-discovery through Literature and Writing Theme Icon
...he goes to “a bad place” at this time of year, which started after his Aunt Helen died. He was held back a grade because it “got so bad.” He explains that... (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Healing and Self-discovery through Literature and Writing Theme Icon
...more anxious, but he doesn’t want to tell his mom about it. Wishing Michael and Aunt Helen were around, he admits he doesn't like his birthday, which was the day before. On... (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Healing and Self-discovery through Literature and Writing Theme Icon
...his brother. Charlie’s mom notices that he looks sad and asks him if it’s about Aunt Helen . He says he feels this way every year on his birthday, but his mom... (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Masculinity and Violence Theme Icon
Adolescence and Transformation Theme Icon
On the ride home, Charlie’s family visits Aunt Helen ’s grave and Charlie thinks about her experiences. He writes that she was molested as... (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Healing and Self-discovery through Literature and Writing Theme Icon
...first time driving alone. For his first trip, Charlie drives to the cemetery to visit Aunt Helen , where he leaves a mix tape for her and tells her about his life.... (full context)
Part 4
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
...way home he thinks about how the last person who said he was “special” was Aunt Helen . He admits that he’s grateful to have been called that again and thinks everyone... (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
That night Charlie has a dream that he is watching TV with his siblings and Aunt Helen , and Aunt Helen touches him the way Sam did. He wakes up to find... (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Masculinity and Violence Theme Icon
...talk to anyone else about it. He thinks he could maybe have talked to his Aunt Helen about it, but now he’s questioning that because he’s beginning to think what he dreamed... (full context)
Epilogue
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
...questions and his answers, but he explains that with this doctor’s help, he realizes that Aunt Helen molested him as a child every Saturday while they watched TV. He explains that the... (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
...to have things to look forward to. When his siblings visit him, they talk about Aunt Helen , and Charlie realizes there’s no point in blaming her for what she did to... (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Adolescence and Transformation Theme Icon
...hospital, Charlie decides that he isn’t the way he is because of what happened with Aunt Helen . He knows what happened is important, and he should remember it, but people are... (full context)
Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Theme Icon
Relationships and Intimacy Theme Icon
Adolescence and Transformation Theme Icon
...truck with the wind in his face. He thinks about how he still loves his Aunt Helen for buying him to presents, and how much he wants the people around him to... (full context)