Charlie’s past was never revealed in the book, but thanks to Aunt Helen, we got a glimpse at the traumatic events scarring his mind. Aunt Helen was molested as a young girl, and in turn, she molested her nephew, Charlie. Throughout the novel, Charlie often describes himself as a wallflower; his friends say that “you see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.” Aunt Helen took advantage of his shy personality, and used him to relieve her own troubled mind. This explains why Charlie acts differently than other teens, and why he vaguely remembers any of these damaging memories. Helen’s actions are unforgivable, and yet, Charlie still found the strength to call this woman his aunt.
Forgiveness is perhaps the strongest thing a human being can do, and Charlie certainly expressed courage by forgiving his aunt. While Charlie only remembers the kind, beautiful side of his aunt, he continued to label her as his “favorite person in the whole world,” even after learning what she did to him. Charlie finds a resemblance between himself and Helen, in the way they both continued to be hopeful, even while being sad. He trusts and loves his aunt so much because of the fact that she was the only one who remembered his birthdays (since they were on December 24th), and because she died on the way to buy him a gift. One would think that this was not enough reason to excuse sexual abuse, but all of us have different ways of reacting to certain situations. Even after being robbed of his innocence and youth, Charlie was still strong enough to forgive his Aunt Helen.
Aunt Helen is a character in “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” that was mentioned only a couple of times throughout the novel, but her actions definitely affected the narrative in many ways. Charlie helps us understand that we can all overcome our past if we have the power to overcome our present, while Aunt Helen helps us understand that our past does not have to define our future. And Stephen Chbosky teaches us that love rules above all. After all, “we accept the love we think we deserve.”