The Perks of Being a Wallflower has become a timeless coming-of-age movie with some incredibly poignant quotes, but which are the most memorable?
The 2012 coming-of-age movie written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, the book’s author, has achieved cult classic status. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a movie that often features on best-of lists for films in the genre, thanks to moving performances from lead actors Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson.
The movie was a critical and commercial success and continues to live on in the collective memories of those who watched it. Touching upon tender topics, it does a wonderful job of portraying the highs and lows of adolescence.
Updated on December 26th, 2020, by Svetlana Sterlin: The coming-of-age genre has only expanded since the movie’s 2012 release, especially with the advent of nostalgic, era-specific stories, most notably Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. The Perks of Being a Wallflower will hold its special place in the world of pop culture for years to come.
Updated on January 24th, 2022, by Hannah Saab: Nearly a decade after its initial release, the 2012 film is still as timeless as ever and continues to be a relatable masterpiece that captures the culture and spirit of its time. The best quotes from The Perks of Being a Wallflower are as relevant as ever, as new viewers discover Charlie’s profound experiences and the moving friendship that forms between him, Sam, and Patrick.
Sam is stuck in a toxic and unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend, but she can’t seem to assert her independence. She also notices a similar pattern in her friends, and as a wallflower, Charlie is the only person she can confide in.
She laments to Charlie about how poorly she and her friends have chosen their significant others. Charlie remembers something his teacher tells him and repeats it to Sam: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Sam’s words have become one of the most iconic quotes from Perks of Being a Wallflower and they highlight the insecurities and self-image issues adolescents often go through.
Charlie struggles to feel anything for much of the first act, largely because he’s still reeling from the death of his friend. His emotions are dulled and he doesn’t get out to experience much, so when he befriends the seniors, it opens up a whole new world for him.
In the iconic scene when he stands up in the car to feel alive, his diary entry voiceover describes the extent of his feelings as he finally allows them to affect him. Lines like “I am here, and I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it” prove why Perks is a coming-of-age movie that truly captures what it’s like to be a teen.
Everyone remembers Mr. Anderson’s wise words to Charlie throughout the film, especially “We accept the love we think we deserve.” However, it’s what Charlie and his teacher discuss next that most people overlook.
Charlie asks him, “Can we make them know that they deserve more?” Mr. Anderson gives him a sad smile, taken by Charlie’s good heart, and replies, “We can try.” It’s simple advice that stays with Charlie long after that brilliant conversation is over and is something that should inspire viewers who should keep trying as the protagonist does.
Charlie is the kind of guy who, as an introvert, doesn’t stand up for himself or use his voice. As a result, things sort of just happen to him – like Mary Elizabeth asking him out and him feeling obliged to say yes.
They start dating, but the relationship is less than ideal. Charlie just goes along with it, afraid to hurt her feelings by breaking up with her. One day, they go to a party where the group plays truth or dare. Charlie is forced to admit how he really feels about Mary Elizabeth, which leaves everyone in awkward silence.
Charlie’s diary entry voiceovers hold reign over the movie. It’s one of the few young adult movies that can pull off a voiceover that isn’t useless or cheesy. They add a lot of insight into his character and what he thinks since he so rarely expresses his true feelings aloud.
In fact, one of the things he’s most upset about is his sister’s relationship with a boyfriend who is unkind to her. He’s also sad about Sam’s relationship, and pretty much every romantic couple around him. He wonders how they can love each other without liking each other.
In the final monologue, Charlie delivers this line as part of a larger voiceover. The scene leaves a lasting impression on viewers who have gone through the teens’ journeys and have seen how challenging things have been for them.
The quote about forgetting what it’s like to be sixteen succinctly expresses the overwhelming feelings of being a teenager. It implores audiences to pause for a second and to try and recollect how they felt when they were young as well.
Sam’s way of welcoming Charlie to his first ever party is an unforgettable one, as she introduces their group as “misfit toys.” As Charlie feels like he doesn’t fit in, this is perfect for him.
Patrick immediately takes a liking to Charlie. At the party, he toasts Charlie and everyone enthusiastically joins in. Thus begins Charlie’s great adventure with his first group of friends, the misfits.
Charlie’s English teacher, Mr. Anderson, delivers one of the most poignant lines of the film when Charlie confides in him — as his only friend — about his sister’s abusive boyfriend: “Why do nice people choose the wrong people to date?“
Mr. Anderson tells him that people only accept the love they believe they deserve. This is one of the most powerful and thought-provoking quotes from the movie and it represents Charlie’s complicated history and chaotic emotions.
Towards the end of the movie, when Charlie finally starts to see a glimmer of hope, he recalls things that his doctor helped him realize. Charlie leaves the hospital after he gets better and his doctor reminds him that while events from his past are not in his control, he doesn’t have to let them define the rest of his life.
It’s a difficult thing to do when there are so many hurtful things in the past, but his doctor tells him that he must make sure that he knows that he has power over his future.
At a party, Sam asks Charlie why he never asked her out. He replies to that by saying he doesn’t think that’s what she wanted. Upon hearing this, she asks him what he wants and why he never acts on what he wants.
Everyone has different opinions on love. Charlie and Sam, as the viewers come to see, have almost opposite views. Sam thinks that love is something that should be openly shown and expressed; Charlie thinks that love is about putting the needs of everyone else ahead of his own.
Patrick quickly recognizes what kind of person Charlie is. He says it out loud for everyone to hear, then proposes a toast to Charlie. It’s the line where the movie gets its title from, and it’s something that many introverted viewers can relate to — it’s one of the best quotes from The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Charlie observes everyone quietly, he listens, and so he is able to understand people a lot better than others. This can make him a great friend and a great writer. Patrick and Sam notice this about him; they also see his wonderful qualities and ask him to be their friend.
Patrick says a line about saving people, which many teens and adults will identify with. He wonders why his friends make decisions that are bound to hurt them, knowing that he won’t be able to talk them out of it.
There is an incredible frustration that comes with being helpless that Patrick vocalizes in this quote. It perfectly applies to his own situation, and he knows that all too well. It rightly captures the sentiment of the movie, that sometimes, people can only learn after falling; there’s no simple way out.
Chbosky is able to capture the teenage experience so perfectly and even manages to translate it in an inspirational way in Perks. Charlie’s voiceover in the final sequence of the film sums up his journey of growth and underscores how much he has changed.
Audiences are bound to feel goosebumps after hearing Charlie talk about how “these moments are not stories.” SChbosy puts it perfectly when he says that being a teenager is about the immensity of feelings they experience when things are happening around them and to them.
Sam says this to Charlie after they reunite after a brief dispute. It’s her way of welcoming him back into her life, as well as back into the group. Nothing can keep the two apart, especially considering how much they care for each other and understand that they need their friendship.
Like the “island of misfit toys” line, this line also invokes a sense of camaraderie between kids who are considered strange. It’s a joyful occasion for Charlie to get back with his friends and Sam delivers this line with a charming smile.
Ezra Miller’s role as Patrick is often considered one of his best, and it’s easy to see why. Aside from bringing some much-needed comic relief to the coming-of-age film, his character is more complicated than he seems on the surface.
Patrick obviously uses humor to cope with the very real problems he’s dealing with both in his family life and his romantic relationship. His line about his life being “an after-school special” is a half-joke, as although he may not show it, he’s one of the saddest people in school.
Charlie struggles to understand why Sam would tolerate the kind of treatment she gets from her toxic boyfriend. He sees how beautiful, kind, and intelligent she is, so he doesn’t get why she doesn’t see that, too.
The urgency can be heard in his voice when he tells her that she’s “not small” as he finally leans in to kiss her. It’s a touching moment where Charlie shows how brave and honest he can be under the right circumstances, and it’s hopefully a line that helps Sam see herself from his perspective.
Charlie may start the movie as an aspiring writer who mostly keeps to himself, but he ends up becoming so much more than that when all has been said and done. His letters are a huge part of the movie, and his very last one signals how much he has grown up over the course of the film.
His promise of “trying to participate” likely caused some viewers to shed a tear or two. As a wallflower, Charlie is often standing in the background and simply observing instead of joining in. The fact that he has mustered up enough courage to put down the pen and start experiencing things is promising and inspiring.
Patrick’s nickname has an origin story that is as sad as it is amusing. His first day in class goes terribly wrong when he snaps back at a teacher who’s making fun of him and calling him “Patty-Cakes.”
His feisty response about calling him Patrick or calling him nothing unsurprisingly earns him the nickname, “Nothing,” which follows him all the way to his last year in high school. His teacher’s insensitive comment and the years of bullying that follow afterward are unfortunately things average students likely experience at one point or another.
With his doctor’s help, Charlie tries to make sense of the conflicting and intense emotions that he feels. He’s “both happy and sad,” which is something that most adolescents have likely felt during high school.
Charlie is learning that things are not always as black-and-white as he would like them to be — it’s a fact that applies to Sam’s relationship, Patrick’s personality, and Charlie’s own struggles with his past. Thankfully, he does “figure out how that could be” eventually, with the help of a professional, his family, and of course, his supportive friends.
Arguably the best quote in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “We are infinite” is the most memorable line from the whole movie. In three words, it is able to capture the entire essence of the film and is repeated right at the end of it to cement the message.
Charlie, Patrick, and Sam are driving through the tunnel as David Bowie’s “Heroes” blares out. Even though this section of the movie is all about the resolution, this is where it comes to a crescendo thematically.
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