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The poem. What did it mean to Charlie?

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Fatin I'm not completely sure I remember what the poem meant. Also, the part where Charlie goes "I never wanted to understand what it meant", paraphrasing here, what happens? I have such a terrible memory. I can't remember.

Here's the poem:

Once on a yellow peice of paper with green lines
he wrote a poem
and he called it "chops"
because that was the name of his dog
and thats what it was all about
his teacher gave him an A
and a gold star
and his mother hung it on the kitchen door
and read it to his aunts.
that was the year Father Tracy
took all the kids to the zoo
and he let them sing on the bus
and his little sister was born
with tiny nails and no hair
and his mother and father kissed alot
and the girl around the corner sent him a
Valentine signed with a row of X's
and he had to ask his father what the X's meant
and his father always tucked him in bed at night
and was always there to do it

once on a piece of white paper with blue lines
he wrote a poem
he called it "Autumn"
because that was the name of the season
and that's what it was all about
and his teacher gave him an A
and asked him to write more clearly
and his mother never hung it on the kithcen door
beause of the new paint
and the kids told him
that Father Tracy smoked cigars
and left butts on the pews
and sometime they would burn holes
that was the year his sister got glasses
with thick lenses and black frames
and the girl around the corner laughed
when he asked her to go see santa claus
and the kids told him why
his mother and father kissed alot
and his father never tucked him in bed at night
and his father got mad
when he cried for him to do it

once on a paper torn from his notebook
he wrote a poem
and he called it "Innocence: A Question"
because that was the question about his girl
and thats what it was all about
and his professor gave him an A
and a strange steady look
and his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
because he never showed her
that was the year Father Tracy died
and he forgot how the end
of the Apostles's Creed went
and he caught his sister
making out on the back porch
and his mother and father never kissed
or even talked
and the girl around the corner
wore too much make up
that made him cough when he kissed her
but he kissed her anyway
becuase it was the thing to do
and at 3 am he tucked himself into bed
his father snoring soundly

that's why on the back of a brown paper bag
he tried another poem
and he called it "Absolutely Nothing"
because that's what it was really all about
and he gave himself an A
and a slash on each damned wrist
and he hung it on the bathroom door
because this time he didnt think
he could reach the kitchen----


message 2: by Gretchen (last edited Sep 20, 2012 12:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gretchen @Fatin what do you think the poem means? The poem progresses in a journey of a young person writing a poem at various stages of his life or over the course of a short period of time. How do you think he changes over time, how do his poems' change as far as what he writes them on and where he hangs them? What impression does it give you?
Poetry is so personal and while there is usually a specified meaning or intention by the author it can also leave it's own personal thumb print on each person. So I think the better question to ask is not what others think but what did you think and how do you think Charlie changed from not understanding then end to understanding it.


McKent Peligrino the poem was a suicide note from his friend micheal,somewhat a clue that micheal was attempting suicide.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

It never said who it was by. Or did it? I never saw that it was from Michael and when Charlie first introduced it he asked his friends to tell him if they knew te author becaise he didnt know.


Gretchen Queen Spoons ~RulerOfTheRobo-Sheep~ wrote: "It never said who it was by. Or did it? I never saw that it was from Michael and when Charlie first introduced it he asked his friends to tell him if they knew te author becaise he didnt know."

Michael had given it to him, Charlie did not know that it was written by Michael.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh!, okay thanks for the explanation


Harriet I think that Chbosky leaves that interpretation open to the reader, you can't know for certain that Michael wrote it, but it is implied and makes sense if he did


Casey I don't really know what it means, neccesarily, but I find it to be very powerful. I agree with Charlie when he says that he doesn't want to know what it means because then it would depress me even more than it already does. I do know that it was a suicide note of some sort though. I think.


Davytron I was a bit disappointed that they skipped this part in the movie - I was really moved by it in the book. I still really enjoyed the movie, though!


David Ganz who said it was written by michel. either way thats how michael saw things and charlie can see michaels pain in that note. its very meaningful to charlie bec that note represents suicide and pain which will always be associated with his only friend


Meera Hi, I'm Stephen Chbosky's assistant, Meera. He really appreciates and is truly honored to have you read and discuss his book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The movie version of Perks, which Stephen also wrote, is being released nationwide in the US today, October 12th! To find showtimes/theaters near you, visit http://www.facebook.com/WallflowerMov...

Thank you so much for all the support, it really means a lot to Steve. We hope you love the movie as much as we do!


Alice The poem was actually written by a real teenager who did commit suicide, it's called 'To Santa and little sisters'


Hayley Em Alice wrote: "The poem was actually written by a real teenager who did commit suicide, it's called 'To Santa and little sisters'"

cool thanks i am now going to google it :)


Alice Hayley wrote: "Alice wrote: "The poem was actually written by a real teenager who did commit suicide, it's called 'To Santa and little sisters'"

cool thanks i am now going to google it :)"


glad to be of help :)


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I googled it as well, thank you for sharing..It's wonderful and very moving..


message 16: by Olivia (new)

Olivia R when he says I never wanted to understand what it meant he means he never wanted to feel in that place where he was suicidal.


Charlie Oakley I think Michael gave it to Charlie and i think after Michaels suicide Charlie likely felt guilty that he didn't see what Michael was trying to say. I think this because Charlie says "I never wanted to understand what it meant"


Amald511 honestly i couldn't read it maybe because i generally don't like poetry and it was too sad o read it and to know that it was actually written by a real teenager was letter took his own life .


message 19: by Janice (new)

Janice I think i sorta understand the poem until the part of "absolutely nothing" i mean, what did he mean by absolutely nothing?!


message 20: by Olga (new) - rated it 4 stars

Olga Swarley {Living in November} wrote: "Ah. I feel the need to comment on this, because this poem means the world to me and, reading it aloud almost made me cry. My voice got very gravelly. It was awkward, because I almost never cry.
......"


I never gave much thought to Michael, focusing rather on Charlie, obviously. He was always just a regular Joe to me, except, that he was important to Charlie. But after reading your thoughts on the poem, both the poem and the fact that Michael and Charlie were best friends is starting to look very logical. If Michael's perception of his life was as it is described in that poem, then he had to be very sensitive to the world around him. As special, as Charlie. I found myself in amazement, that people with such beautiful and rare personalities are usually outsiders and considered weird. But thank you for showing me the whole new (to me at least) side of Michael.


message 21: by Janice (new)

Janice Oooh okay :) i just got it until now thank you :)


Sabrina it was from michael and it shows how his life started out great then it started to get worse and worse to a point where he gave up all the people he cared about seemed to stop caring so he gave up on himself


ϟEvelynϟ I really loved this poem, it was very impacting. I also think it was about Michael.


message 24: by Josh (last edited Jan 28, 2013 12:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Josh Butler In the first chapter of the book, Charlie writes about Michael's suicide, stating that he had not left a suicide note—or, if he had, his parents had not released it. At the gift exchange, he states that Michael had given him a copy of the poem, but that he did not know who had written it. The storyline in "Perks" takes place in 1991-92, and a quick Google search will turn up that the poem was written in the late 1960s; therefore, the poem cannot be a suicide note left by Michael to Charlie.

The counselor who sits in with Michael's friends following his death states a possible cause for his suicide could have been "problems at home" or "not having anyone to talk to." Charlie is upset by this, stating that Michael could have talked to him. It is possible that Chbosky chose the poem as a warning sign of Michael's coming suicide, though Charlie, being only in Middle School at the time, might have been too young to read into it.


Nichelle I loved this poem in the book. If you buy the movie, watch the deleted scenes and turn on the commentary. Then click on the poem scene. He explains why it's not included with the movie AND he talks about who wrote it. It turns out he (Stephen Chbosky) was given the poem from his sister who got it from a friend, etc. etc. It was passed along. Before the book was published, Mr. Chbosky was told he had to find out the author of the poem. He went through some searching to find out that it was written by Dr. Earl Ruem (spelling could be off). Mr. Chbosky says that this was his favorite poem as well. I recommend watching the scene if you can :)


Brittany Cormier Davytron wrote: "I was a bit disappointed that they skipped this part in the movie - I was really moved by it in the book. I still really enjoyed the movie, though!"

it is in the deleted scenes :)


message 27: by Nykki (new)

Nykki Alice wrote: "The poem was actually written by a real teenager who did commit suicide, it's called 'To Santa and little sisters'"



The poem was actually written by a man named Dr. Earl Reum (Chbosky thanks him in the beginning of the book). The poem is called A person, A paper, A promise
http://reumors.typepad.com/reumors/th...

I watched/listened to Chbosky's commentary on the DVD of Perks and he explains that he had to hunt down who wrote the poem in order to publish it in his novel because he didn't know who wrote it since he heard it when he was younger. His search led him to Dr. Reum who he spoke to about the poem. Dr. Reum explained that he wrote it and was a teacher who used it for his students and suicide awareness.
I don't know what this To Santa poem is but I'm guessing it was a rumor spread around the internet. It isn't really written by a kid who committed suicide but maybe inspired by one.


Swordthestral LizzyOrSpoons*I'mStillHuman* wrote: "It never said who it was by. Or did it? I never saw that it was from Michael and when Charlie first introduced it he asked his friends to tell him if they knew te author becaise he didnt know."
True. Michael just gave it to Charlie and said he didn't know the author. My drawing conclusions from it, it was quite clear that it was Michael's suicide note.


message 29: by Rose (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rose I loved this poem which is obviously Micheal's suicide note. it clearly expresses a person's journey and perspective towards life as he grows up and age changes the angle from which he looks at life


Victoria Just mentioning that the scene where Charlie reads it is a deleted scene, and can be found in the special features on the movie.


Lauren Now thinking about it, I seem to think that Charlie giving the poem to his friends is like a warning sign for him. Does anybody else think that, or is it just Charlie being curious to know if any oft knew the author?


message 32: by Janae (new)

Janae Watson The note wasn't written by Michael because he never left a note to Charlie's understanding, and Michael shot himself in the head, he didn't slit his wrist


Brittany Well the Perks is all about growing up. Charlie has to grow up and really look at the people and the world around him. This poem illustrated the same meaning but in a darker way; a way that Charlie never wants to know. This poem is about a boy who grows up and instead of seeing the world as infinite as Charlie does, he sees the world as cold and confusing. At least that's what I got out of this poem.


message 34: by Drew (new)

Drew It is Michael's suicide note, Charlie was asked by his friends what was his last Christmas present. He said a poem from his friend Michael. After he read it and asked if anyone heard it before, Bob said that it was "some kid's suicide note."


message 35: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Doe Ok guys, the whole point of the poem (why it was in the book) is because it follows a cycle. And first, Michael followed the cycle, and now Charlie will. Now, I'm not saying Michael wrote the poem, but he must have been relating to it in some way.
This actually hit me the day after I finished the book, and I kept getting more into the book, even after I finished.
The kid in the poem writes poems about Chops, Autumn, and Innocence: A Question. He supposedly got A's on them from his teacher. And this is why Chbosky added in the relationship of Bill and Charlie because Charlie would write essays for Bill.
The kid in the poem had gotten his story read to his aunts (representing Aunt helen) and then his mother would hang them on the kitchen door. Actually, I do remember a time when Charlie's mom put one of his grades on the refrigerator.
In the poem, Father Tracy took them to the zoo and let them sing on the bus. Now, I'm not really sure who Father Tracy represents, but I know that Charlie used to sing on the school bus and the bus driver wouldn't mind.
Also, they say that the girl around the corner sent him a valentine. Judging by what the girl does at the end of the poem, she either represents the bad side of Aunt Helen or Mary Elizabeth. I can't really tell.
Okay, and now that I read the story, maybe Father Tracy could be the good side of Aunt Helen (the side where she is a nice person). Father Tracy dies in the last stanza of the poem, so I guess maybe that's who she is.
Also, he caught his sister on the front porch with a boy. Just like what he found in the basement.
Also, he wrote a poem called Autumn. This could be like the song "Autumn Leaves" or something like that.
Also, they say he wrote a poem about a girl called "Innocence-A Question." There was a part in the book where Charlie wrote a poem about Sam but never showed it to anyone.
Ok, and FINALLY-- the biggest part--- the part where Charlie has to follow the end of the poem. Since the whole poem is a reflection of his life, one can predict that he'll commit suicide at the end. In the book, it's very subtle, but Charlie does eventually attempt suicide, once he had figured out the truth about Aunt Helen. Also, in the Epilogue, he sent a letter in the mailbox, and that was the last thing he remembered before waking up in the hospital. The letter could possibly have been this poem.
This is probably my favorite book, but like Charlie, the most recent book I've read tends to be my favorite. :)
This book actually reminds me of "When You Reach Me" by Rebecca Stead. It's about time and cycles, and who will turn out like who.
I just have one question---- When Charlie went to the mall and saw the little boy get lost, and then the mother got yelled at for not keeping an eye on him. Charlie talks about this at the end of the book, and how that boy will grow up to hit his sister, just like her boyfriend did. I'm kinda confused as to how that ties into Aunt Helen. I'm pretty sure it's the fact that Aunt Helen got hit by her father... but I'm not really sure... what do you guys think?? thx!


message 36: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Doe Oh and also, in the poem, when it says that the girl told him Santa wasn't real, I think that represents Aunt Helen taking Charlie's innocence and childhood away.


Aurélie Jane wrote: "Ok guys, the whole point of the poem (why it was in the book) is because it follows a cycle. And first, Michael followed the cycle, and now Charlie will. Now, I'm not saying Michael wrote the poem,..."

Wow... I'm a tad late on your answer, but your analysis just blew my mind. I had never seen it the way you have, and your analysis makes perfect sense.
This is my favorite novel of all time and everytime I read it, I try to go deeper into its meaning, and you've just helped a great deal. I love it. Thank you!


message 38: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Doe You're welcome! I'm glad you understand, and that I wasn't just ranting about random stuff :)


message 39: by Victoria (last edited Nov 26, 2013 12:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Victoria Jane wrote: "Ok guys, the whole point of the poem (why it was in the book) is because it follows a cycle. And first, Michael followed the cycle, and now Charlie will. Now, I'm not saying Michael wrote the poem,..."

I've literally just finished this book, and I loved the poem. I find that I'm quite detailed with analysis, it's part of my personality, and I found the exact same thing as you when I analysed this poem, even down to the characters being represented and the little references to the book. When Charlie said about the grades on the refrigerator door at the end, I immediately related it back to the poem, so I think that this was Chbosky's deliberate intention.

As for the reference to the boy in the mall, I think it could be Charlie reflecting on Aunt Helen and how she was hit when she was young. Also, seeing his sister get hit clearly upset him, and he often reminds us that his own father doesn't hit him, so I think that the repressed memories of his abuse have almost led him to have a paranoia about both physical and sexual abuse. At the time, he doesn't realise why seeing his sister get hit upsets him to the extent it does, although it would be enough to upset anyone, but at the end of the book, after recollecting the abuse and why Aunt Helen did what she did, he comes to realise that this is why he's so worried about those close to him getting mistreated.

Why he alludes to the 'french fries' boy in particular confused me, but I think looking back that it was a comment on how he worries that bad parenting (ei. the mum losing the child) could also be a sign of mistreatment, and that he is concerned that the child will grow up to mistreat his own girlfriends (I think that the reference to his sister is a metaphor for all women, and the reference to the young boy is a metaphor for all people who have suffered abuse at a young age.)

That was my interpretation anyway, I could be wrong.


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message 41: by Lucy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lucy I've always thought that the poem had nothing to do with Michael. I mean I know this has nothing to do with it but that wasn't his preferred choice to die. he chose shooting himself.
I mean it's the fall apart of a nuclear family, your faith dying, a boy clamouring for attention, his sister going from being bullied to off the rails and having a girlfriend. adolescence right?
the suicide part shocked me, I wasn't expecting it. I don't actually know what the hell I was expecting, but it wasn't that,
but I've never connected it with Charlie or Michael. I don't think it follows suit or his his note. i mean it actually isn't, its another boys but that's beside the point. I think this poem can't be analysed inside the context of the book, as in real life, there is no connection betwixt this poem and the story.
my favourite section of the poem is the humour of the last section.I know suicidal people and somehow, hey always capture the light in the dark even if they can't in themselves. that's the most painfully accurate part of the poem and I think when Charlie is with Patrick and Sam, they find the humour for him and he in turn helps them, the poem is personified, maybe not as blatantly obvious as some people expect butt for me, its there, smiling with cold, dark eyes.


Dunja Lesić The original poem by Earl Reum did not go like that exactly. The version Chbosky published in Perks was rewritten by fourteen-year-old Patrick Comeaux, who supposedly remembered the poem wrong when he wrote it. Chbosky mentioned in his Acknowledgments in Perks, “And finally…Dr. Earl Reum for writing a beautiful poem and Patrick Comeaux for remembering it wrong when he was 14.”


Kelseyc Simply put: The poem is about a boy's life going from good to bad to suicide.

Charlie meant that he never wanted to know that the boy killed himself in the end because Charlie also suffered from suicidal thoughts and it scared him.


message 44: by Yatta (new)

Yatta I think a lot of people aren't realizing that if the poem were michaels suicide note the events in the poem wouldn't make any sense, they're also missing the symbolism in the poem- it's written over the course of over a decade and Michael died as an eighth grader the poem litterally can't be his suicide note. It shows the lapse of years, his sister being born-to his sister being old enough to be making out with someone on the porch. Him being the age of a child who is excited to go see Santa Claus- him having a professor grade his poetry (college age) he was only an 8th grader when he died, the poem isn't his suicide note. If you have the movie on DVD the special features show the author talk about how he came across the poem-enjoyed it- and wanted to include it in his novel, the author was a school teacher and he contacted him and asked his permission to include it in his book. As for the meaning of the poem it shows someone suicidal or with depression feeling helpless and as if everything in life is going downhill/not as good as it seems.
For example His mother and father kissing a lot in the beginning- not even speaking at the end. Father Tracey taking the kids at his church to the zoo-finding out that he smokes cigars and leaves them on the seats in the church so that they end up getting holes burnt through them-father Tracey dying- him forgetting the apostles creed (a saying taught at church)
His father always tucking him into bed at night-him having to do it himself (his father not wanting to any longer) him writing on a piece of paper- him writing on a brown paper bag (traditionally what alcohol is sold in meaning he could have alcohol abuse problems or obviously it could be anything
but there isn't much reason to have a brown paper bag in your bedroom) also that his poetry was once enjoyed by his teacher and then his proffessor telling him that he needs to write clearly, showing how he feels in the beggining everything is great but slowly gets bad. And at the end him cutting his wrists either because he's suicidal or because he was commiting suicide (we don't know if he died or not at the end- a lot of people cut their wrists or self harm and are still alive) and then the last sentence "because he didn't think he could reach the kitchen" either meaning that after he cut his wrists he's bleeding to death and physically feels he can't reach the table or because he's depressed and doesn't feel like ever leaving his bedroom.


Natalie Charlie really liked the poem, he even gave it as a gift. I think it was an unconscious way of Charlie saying he was suicidal, and depressed, on the inside.


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message 47: by Lord (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lord Vader Charlie wrote: "I think Michael gave it to Charlie and i think after Michaels suicide Charlie likely felt guilty that he didn't see what Michael was trying to say. I think this because Charlie says "I never wanted..."

but if michael wrote it how come bob also heard the poem once?


****Kelly***** Natalie wrote: "Charlie really liked the poem, he even gave it as a gift. I think it was an unconscious way of Charlie saying he was suicidal, and depressed, on the inside."


yeah, i agree. he kept crying the entire time!!


Richard Mactough It's this journey of how as we get older innocent qualaties of life start to fade awaay.


Fluffy Uuuh that was long ago, but i have to say, i don't think micheal wrote the poem.
Charlie is a clever boy, he would have get it. If the poem is really about micheal himself, then it wouldn't make sense. First, all these things, like chops, his little sister, the priest, charlie would have know things like this about his best friend, second, micheal shot himself, not cut his wrist to death, third, it says 'his professor gave him an a' i don't know about your highschools, but at my highschool we don't have professors, only normal teachers
Well that's my opinion at least


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