Friday, July 20, 2012

High School Archetypes (as inspired by The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

I've spent the last few days reading this book:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Goodreads says... Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

This post isn't a review of the book (I will say it's UNIQUE and MOVING and AWESOME), but a musing on high school archetypes and the archetypal high school characters Stephen Chbosky presents in his novel--then twists and turns upside down. I'll keep my points spoiler-free, so if you've yet to read Wallflower, you can  proceed without caution.

archetype  (ˈɑːkɪˌtaɪp)
— n
1. a perfect or typical specimen
2.  an original model or pattern; prototype
3. psychoanal  one of the inherited mental images postulated byJung as the content of the collective unconscious
4. a constantly recurring symbol or motif in literature, painting, etc...

The Characters of Wallflower, Simplified...

Charlie - The Wallflower - Analytical, intelligent, insightful, a bit naive. Mostly content to sit back and observe the world around him. 

Patrick - The Independent - Mature, artistic, friendly. Doesn't care what others think, fits in with many. 

Sam - The Free Spirit - Smart, imaginative, emotional, loyal. Knows what she wants and has the guts to go after it.

Brad - The Big Man on Campus - Athletic, confident, popular. Will burn bridges and/or hurt feelings to maintain his facade.  

Mary Elizabeth - The Contrary Girl - Determined yet self-conscious, autonomous yet needy. Rebellious. Quick to anger, quick to forgive.

Of course there are many more... The Bad Boy, The Class Clown, The Band Geek, The Bookworm, The Queen Bee, The Artist, etc...

We're curious: If you're currently in high school, do you fit cleanly into one of the archetypes from The Perks of Being a Wallflower (or another common archetype)? And if you're a high school grad, can you look back and see where you fit in?

(Further reading on The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Wikipedia, Literary Analysis, Kate's Book Blog)


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