February 21, 2019, 10:46:17 AM

Author Topic: Aunt Helen and Charlie.  (Read 1985 times)

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October 15, 2012, 06:07:16 PM

paint it Black

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Before Charlie is finished writing his very first letter to his new anonymous "friend", he has shared a traumatic episode from his childhood concerning the first (and only) time he was struck by his father, followed by the discovery of a disturbing childhood experience of his beloved Aunt Helen.  Despite having died more than half his life ago, his aunt clearly had a big impact on his life and he mentions her frequently in his letters, saying that she was "the only one who hugged me" and "I miss her terribly".  Later we discover that Aunt Helen died on Charlie's seventh birthday, and that he felt so much guilt and trauma over her death that he was hospitalized for a time and was held back a year in school, and that he still struggles with this trauma every year on his birthday.  Before this point in the story, how much of an impact did you suspect that Aunt Helen had had on Charlie's life?  Did you have a different take on Charlie's shy and sensitive personality once you learned the details of Aunt Helen's death?

Shortly before the end of the book, we (and Charlie) discover the devastating truth about the nature of the relationship between Charlie and his aunt.  At any point did you imagine a scenario like this?  If so, at what point did you start to suspect the truth?  Charlie's English teacher Bill spent a lot of time in thoughtful conversation with him; do you think he ever suspected something of this nature?  Charlie mentions that the psychiatrist he's been seeing keeps asking weird questions about his childhood.  What was it about Charlie made him suspect the truth?

Do you think that Aunt Helen ever felt guilty for what she'd done, or was she too troubled herself to fully comprehend it?

At the conclusion of the epilogue, Charlie has been discharged from the hospital and seems to have gained a lot of insight into his life.  Are you optimistic about Charlie's future?

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