The Perks of Being a Wallflower The Perks of Being a Wallflower question

Did aunt Helen molest Charlie?
Amy Marie Amy May 23, 2012 03:14PM
I was quite confused at the ending did this marvelous aunt of Charlie end up molesting him seeing as her past was too cruel to handle?

Maybe it's just me, but I thought the author was making a point about how easy it is to miss something as significant as sexual abuse. When you look at how confused everyone was after reading the book/seeing the movie, that many people have had to ask online, it seems maybe the author didn't make it so obvious in order to bring that to our attention?
The whole story based around sexual abuse and for so many people this went unnoticed, I think these people that haven't noticed are as much a part of the story as the characters in it

Charlie thinks about his mom's sister a lot. He even visits her grave, telling her secrets that he only shares in his letters. So why does he love and trust her so much? He thinks it's because she was one of the few people who bought him two gifts at the holidays—one for Christmas and one for his birthday, which was Christmas Eve. He thinks it's because she died in a car accident on Charlie's seventh birthday when she went to buy his birthday present. He thinks it's because he's guilty for her death.

But there's much more to it than that.

Her Story Repeats Itself

Growing up, Aunt Helen was molested by a friend of the family. When she finally told her parents, they didn't believe her. They did nothing to stop it, and even continued inviting the man into their home. Eventually, Aunt Helen grew up and got away. But of course, the trauma stayed with her: "My aunt Helen drank a lot. My aunt Helen took drugs a lot. My aunt Helen had many problems with men and boys. […] She went to hospitals all the time" (2.13.9).

Victims of abuse often become abusers themselves. And of course, Aunt Helen goes on to molest Charlie. She took advantage of shy, quiet Charlie's love and trust. Charlie forgives her, but it has changed the course of his life forever.

ᏒIᎪlᎥstᎥc It's from Shmoop.
May 12, 2016 10:29AM

Yes, she did. Charlie had obviously repressed the memory out of confusion, pain, stress, fright, ECT.

yep i think that's why aunt helen buys charlie two gifts just to keep him quiet

I guess everyone must have different ways of reading because to me the whole book was leading up to the discovery of the fact that his aunt molested him. All of the clues about him freaking out when sam touched him and then talking about the dreams and the psychiatrist visits. The author threw subtle little hints in that there was something big that he really didnt want to face or discuss. I think the LSD helped to expand his mind and open him up to this memory. Although in his case because his psychosis was shaky to begin with i think it also left him with some schizophrenic psychotic breaks. I dont know, it was very apparent and one of the major plot points to me that he was molested by his aunt helen

I saw the movie, had never heard of the book, but will read it ASAP. I was under the impression he was always consciously aware of the molestation, but didn't want to face it/deal with it/think about it - so he forced himself to focus on his feelings towards her before she did that - despite knowing what happened. Are you all certain he repressed the memory and only realized it when Kate touched his leg? (Hate to admit it, but this sounds like it's likely the case.)

deleted member May 24, 2012 01:10AM   1 vote
Even though the admittance to this is a little vague, Aunt Helen did in fact sexually abuse Charlie, and even though it took him so long to realize it, it still wounded him. I believe the molest was caused by her unruly childhood, and her need to incessantly date abusive men.

Upon reading half of the book, it clearly gave me an idea that Aunt Helen molested Charlie.

What shocked me is how many of the people here did not get that Helen molested poor old Charlie. Why else would he freak out when Sam started to touch him, and HE DID HAVE A FLASHBACK.
I read this book once before watching the movie, and it was clear that she did, although it was not written literally in the book. I honestly started crying right there and then.

Tina omg...i did not get that
Mar 05, 2016 11:51AM

Oh that's why. : )

i think she did

Yeah, it's pretty obvious.

i didn't realize at first but know it makes sense! thanks :)

I missed this entirely. Time to re-read...

deleted member Sep 15, 2014 10:22PM   0 votes
It was portrayed quite weirdly, and i suspected the Aunt Helen had molested him but i didn't want to think about in case i was wrong. The flashbacks in the movie are very unclear but now i know i realize how obvious it was, the flashback when same touched him about Aunt Helen rubbing his leg, and the flashback where she's wakes him and says "don't wake your sister" but it was quite confusing and i think they should have made it clearer.

I don't know how I didn't realize Aunt Helen molested Charlie. That makes me feel really stupid, but now that I think about it, it makes sense now. i ordered the movie off Amazon and it should be coming soon. I'm excited(:


Don't worry. I finished it and the first thing i did was hop onto goodreads.

Angelica (last edited Oct 01, 2013 08:19AM ) Oct 01, 2013 08:18AM   0 votes
I only figured out Aunt Helen did molest Charlie was when I watched the movie. But I never quite had the idea of that case when I was still reading the book. I only thought that her Aunt Helen was very special and that she was his favorite person in the world, that's all. I feel so stupid. How can I ever forgive myself for not realizing it right away?

Anyway, thank you goodreads people. I finally understand. :)

I did that thing when I get really excited for a book's ending and start to skim, so the first time I read it I had totally missed it. Needless to say, my second read through a year or two later left me shocked!

Diddo on all this confusion. I now realize that the author did throw in hints. I guess I was just too blind to see it. Oops. But now I get it.

Yes, but I also didn't realize it at first.

I just finished the book today and then watched the movie almost immediately after but I would be lying if I said that I knew what the aunt was doing. To be honest, I didn't know what she was doing until I watched the movie because I didn't read the epilog. Although when I went back and read it, all the parts in the book that were relevant to that can clear to me and yes, Aunt Helen was sexual abuser to Charlie.

That or he developed psychosis from the LSD.

Multiple personality disorder?

The first time I read the book (as a junior in high school), I didn't pick up on it. But having read it several times since then, I'm sure she did and it kind of made me sick. (Sick for Charlie and Helen, not for the novel.)

Oh my God, did she? I never saw it that way. Thank you, guys! I am shocked.

Woah. I need to reread this book right now. I missed something.


I absolutely cried at the ending where he reprised everything related to his aunt and then the shock came!!

I came to the conclusion that she did about half way through the book. Read it again, it'll become obvious for you. :)

Did she herself do it or did she let one of her wierdo boyfriends do it?

yeah. i thinkk she did:| and that's awkward peww:]

Yes, she did.

Madison (last edited Oct 19, 2013 03:49AM ) Oct 19, 2013 03:49AM   0 votes
I loved this book so much! I agree you do have to read between the lines alot during the boook.:)

I never noticed...time for a re-read.

Oh my God. I was reading the ending so fast, I didn't notice those details. But going back and rereading... Oh man. Poor Charlie. :(

he talks about the cycle that led to Aunt Helen being molested, therefore alluding to him being the next one in the cycle. Also his experience with sam awakened his memories.

Yeah the author is pretty subtle about this stuff, he doesn't talk about it directly, like when his sister got her abortion.

I think by solely watching just the movie, it would be easy to miss the fact that aunt Helen did in fact molest Charlie because the movie leaves out many small details that give you hints as to what she did to him. But by reading the book, it helps provide little innuendos when Charlie talks about Aunt Helen's past and in the end when he's put into the psychiatric ward. The flashbacks in the movie are actually pretty confusing and don't really help a viewer to understand that aunt Helen did indeed molest Charlie.

Hai all, actually let me tell u this...i am surprised to see, all had the same doubt. I had a faint suspicion that Helen must have abused young charlie. but never thought all the viewers/readers felt the same way....CHEERS to the creator....for creating this weird feeling in all the same way. Good Job

I didn't get it either. I didn't get it until I watched the movie, and I still didn't even get it then :/ When it was showing the flashbacks of it, I just though that it reminded him of his Aunt and it freaked him out to think of his Aunt that way, but yeah, apparently she did molest him :/ Which was kind of a shock to me. I thought she was a nice Aunty :) Oh well, GREAT book and movie.

Me too. I was confused. I searched in Google if Aunt Helen Molested him, and most of the answers are yes! :(

the only reason I knew was because I watched Veronica Mars all my other friends were confused except me

I was also a little confused about that when I first read it.
I wasn't really shocked because I think we know enough about Aunt Helen to say that there was foreshadowing, but it still took a little while for that to sink in.

Yes, I believe she did. I was quite shocked honestly when the truth was revealed.

I think is says it pretty clear, and otherwise why Charlie ended up in the hospital for two months?
Here it is:
At the end of part 4, when he and Sam are making out in her bedroom (I'm sorry I can't report the page, I have the kindle edition which doesn't show page number):
"When I fall asleep I had a dream. My brother and my sister and I were watching TV with my Aunt Helen.[..]Ans she was doing what Sam was doing (=touching him in his pants). That's when I woke up"

and then later he says several times:

"I'm starting to feel like what I dreamt about her (= Aunt Helen)last night was true. And my psychiatrist's questions(=about Charlie's chiuldhood) weren't weird after all"

Then he has his breakdown and he ends uop in the hospital and he writes:

"And the doctor, who turned out to be a very nice woman, started asking me questions. Which I answered:

And later:

"THE HARDEST PART WAS SITTING IN THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE WHEN THE DOCTOR TOLD MY MOM AND DAD WHAT HAPPENED.I've never seen my mother cry so much. Or my father look so angry. Because they didn't know it was happening at the time".

It is pretty clear the he was molested several time, it's the whole point of his nervous breakdown and also of his strong shyness and naivety. He had probably blocked all the memories for years but it had affected the way he grew up and related to other people.

i also did not realize it at first, but after rereading the epologue i figured out that Charlie was molested by his Aunt Helen.

yes she did, but i firstly didn't notice that, but it makes all sense because Charlie ha said that Sam was doing what aunt was doing (or something like that) and he felt wrong everytime he did it (in the book you see that)

he repressed that memories because of pain and every thing that Cheryl said

Now I got to know it. But I couldn't imagine it earlier.

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