Like books, the characters in The Perks of Being a Wallflower use music to foster connections between friends. In particular, music symbolizes shared experiences and feelings, good or bad, that cannot be expressed in words: when Charlie hears one particular song for the first time, he refuses to describe it for the reader because he can’t—one needs to listen to the song to understand it. Music influences the characters in this book in three primary ways: mix tapes, records, and the radio. Sharing songs and the experience of enjoying music together creates a sense of understanding between the listeners. Like giving books, there is also a strong pattern of gifting music to others in this novel, and music usually functions as a way of communicating affection, understanding, and friendship. For his first Secret Santa gift, for example, Charlie makes a carefully selected mix tape for Patrick, and later, when Patrick is struggling through depression, he listens to Charlie’s tape. This shows that the tape comforts him, since he can feel the affection and care that Charlie put into the music selection. In perhaps the most memorable scene in the story, Charlie rides through the tunnel with Patrick and Sam listening to a song on the radio that provides the perfect soundtrack to “driving to your first real party, and you're sitting in the middle seat of a pickup with two nice people when it starts to rain.” The experience punctuated by the perfect song makes Charlie feel “infinite” and demonstrates music’s powerful abilities to connect people and capture experiences in a way that words just can’t.
Music Quotes in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I had an amazing feeling when I finally held the tape in my hand. I just thought to myself that in the palm of my hand, there was this one tape that had all of these memories and feelings and great joy and sadness. Right there in the palm of my hand. And how many people got through a lot of bad times because of those songs. And how many people enjoyed good times with those songs.
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.