Why Linus Van Pelt Deserves Coal in his Stocking


CHARLES M. Schulz gives us Linus Van Pelt as the moral center of his seminal holiday special A Charlie Brown Christmas. Especially compared to his sister, Lucy, a sociopathic bully (“I oughta slug you,” “I’ll give you five good reasons,” etc.) if ever there was one, Linus — gentle, counseling, scripture-quoting Linus — is the one who sets all of us on the right path. Linus is the voice of gentle, moderate decency, the single soul among the consumerist gaggle gathered in the schoolhouse auditorium who can see Christmas for what it is — and what it should be.

Except Linus is a douchebag.

No, really. There is ample evidence to prove it.

While Charlie Brown and the gang are futilely hurling snowballs at an aluminum can set atop the snow-covered wall, Linus fashions his blanket into a slingshot and knocks it off with an old-Western ricochet sound effect. And then he strolls past the gaping crowd, eyes closed and head held high in a smug victory lap that tells all gathered that he’s the shit.

Which is funny, considering that Linus uses not his arm but a goddamn SLINGSHOT to wing his snowball at the can. He uses a weapon that once enabled a boy to kill — TO KILL — a giant. Smugness? Linus should smile sheepishly and shrug his shoulders at the unfair advantage his woolen sidearm confers on him over his unarmed rivals.

Second, in the climactic scene of the special, when Charlie Brown pitifully wails for someone to tell him the true meaning of Christmas, what does his friend Linus do? Does he pull him to a corner for a quiet chat? Invite him back for a cup of hot chocolate to dialogue about it? No, Linus demands that the house lights be drawn down and the spotlight trained on him so that he can stand at center stage and lecture the philistine masses about their heathen ways. Good way to win friends and influence people there, Linus. I’m sure Charlie Brown appreciates having his public humiliation furthered by a pint-sized preacher’s sermon about his failure to understand something as simple as peace on earth, goodwill toward men.

Linus’s most egregious instance of douchery comes toward the end, at Snoopy’s doghouse, where Charlie Brown has abandoned his sorry-ass excuse for a tree and fled in shame. The anemic shrub droops pitifully, so limp that a single ornament is enough to drag its top the ground. And here’s what Linus says as he wraps his blanket around its base:

“I never thought it was such a bad little tree.”

Really, Linus? REALLY?

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, and, oh, what was I saying? Oh, yeah, BULLSHIT.

“I never thought it was such a bad little tree.” Come ON, you little shit. What about when you were with Charlie Brown scoping out trees and you explicitly warned him about the very tree you now say you liked all along? To have the temerity to out-and-out lie like that, mere minutes after piously scolding his friends about “what Christmas is all about,” reveals Linus as the poser he is.

I’m starting to like Lucy more and more. | DL

One thought on “Why Linus Van Pelt Deserves Coal in his Stocking

  1. I respectfully disagree with your classification of poor Linus. Having been the beneficiary of friends who are smugly secure in their theistic lens, I see Linus as an unrecognized prophet (either that or on the Aspergers end of ASD) Likely he would agree.

    Regarding the slings shot– have you heard Malcolm Gladwellsew book on the subject. It’s the technology that makes the history, not the boy.

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