Miles Halter vs. Charlie
What makes up a well written, interesting story? To many critics, parents, and school boards, the “coming-of-age” stories of Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Perks of
Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky are too “explicit” and “controversial” for young readers. However, these opinions have not stopped adults and teenagers alike from reading these marvelous stories of discovery, love, adventure, angst, and understand friendship. The two main characters, Miles Halter from Looking for Alaska and Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower are faced by many instances of heartbreak, danger, and many, many moments of decision, all of which affect the rest of their stories.
Miles Halter is a skinny, pale, shy, and somewhat socially awkward 17 year old boy from
Florida who enjoys learning people’s last words. Miles decides to attend his junior year at Culver
Creek in Alabama, the private prep school his father attended. While at “the Creek”, as it is
referred to in the story, Miles makes friends with exactly the kind of people his parents told him
not to; the Colonel, a small but heavyset teenager, is Miles’ roommate who introduces Miles’ to a life of rule breaking and rebellion, a life Miles never knew existed. Miles is soon
inducted into the Colonel’s friendship, and given the nickname “Pudge”. Soon after, Miles is
introduced to Miss Alaska Young, the mysterious, destructive, independent, spontaneous and loud girl who Miles soon develops a severe crush on. The three, accompanied occasionally by several minor characters, soon form a peculiar kind of friendship, complete with underage drinking, smoking, and minor sexual conduct. By the middle of the book, Miles, the Colonel, and Alaska are best friends. The Creek soon becomes a place of depression, anger, and heartbreak, because Alaska is suddenly caught in a fatal accident that leaves the entire school wondering. These incidents help shape Miles into a unique and complex character that any reader can relate to with ease.
We all know what it’s like to start high school, and the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower seems to catch every moment of that terrifying and unique experience. The book is told from the perspective of a boy who calls himself “Charlie” for the sake of anonymity. Charlie had a hard past, most of which is obscurely told in the book in the form of flashbacks and alliterations. A recovering schizophrenic, Charlie has had a hard time making friends; the only friend he had, a boy named Michael, committed suicide before the story began. Charlie is a bright boy who enjoys reading in his spare time, which does not help his popularity as he enters the jungle that is high school. Charlie is soon targeted by the more popular kids. Shortly after the book begins, Charlie meets a senior named Patrick and his eccentric, rebellious, and fun stepsister, Sam. Charlie takes an interest in Sam, and the three become close friends. Charlie begins to hang out with Patrick and Sam’s friends, enjoying the company of so many people who accept him unconditionally. While Charlie is still attracted to Sam, he is pressured into dating a girl named Mary Elizabeth, but that relationship is soon extinguished. Charlie is cast aside from a mistake he made, and he begins to slip into a deep depression that only is stopped by Patrick, who keeps Charlie company until Sam and their friends begin to talk to him again. In the end, Sam and Patrick must go to college, leaving Charlie hopeful for the future. Charlie, much like Miles, is a very relatable and personal character.
While the main characters of these two stories, Miles and Charlie, differ in many ways, they are also very similar. In Green’s novel, Miles Halter has never had much luck making friends, much like the character of Charlie from Chobsky’s novel. Charlie has a crush on a girl named Sam, the rebellious and sweet girl three grades above Charlie’s own freshman status; in
Looking for Alaska, Miles takes interest in a girl by the name of Alaska Young, a rebellious,
independent and mysterious girl who attends Miles’ prep school, to which he is a new student.
Charlie is starting freshman year in a new school as well. Both characters are affected by peer
pressure to try illegal substances; in Miles’s case, that involves alcohol and cigarettes. Charlie is
pressured into trying illegal drugs such as LSD and marijuana. Both characters learn many things
about themselves and others, messages that the reader easily catches onto, thanks to the authors’
exquisite wording and storylines.
All in all, the books Looking for Alaska and The Perks of Being a Wallflower are
very different books; their characters, however, exhibit many of the same social traits, and experience the same or similar situations. Both books and their teenage protagonists are easily related to, complex, and inspiring. Stephen Chobsky and John Green have accomplished the nearly impossible; they both have written masterpieces that please both them, their readers, and their critics. They have created characters that are loved, cherished and respected by readers of all ages, and written stories to which people from all walks of life can relate to through beautiful