Linus van Pelt
|Linus van Pelt|
Linus with his blanket
|First appearance||September 19, 1952|
|Last appearance||January 1, 2000
Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (2011 Television Special and Movie)
The Peanuts Movie (2015 film)
Linus van Pelt is a character in Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts. The best friend of Charlie Brown, Linus is also the younger brother of Lucy van Pelt and older brother of Rerun van Pelt. He first appeared on September 19, 1952, but was not mentioned by name until three days later. He was first referenced two months earlier, on July 14. Linus spoke his first words in 1954, the same year he was shown with his security blanket.
The character's creator, Charles M. Schulz, has said of the character, "Linus, my serious side, is the house intellectual, bright, well-informed which, I suppose may contribute to his feelings of insecurity."
|“||He made sucking your thumb and holding a security blanket OK. I think he's one of the most original fictional characters of all time—blending childish behavior with great wisdom.||”|
Though young, Linus is very intelligent, and acts as the strip's philosopher and theologian, often quoting the Gospels. Juvenile aspects of his character are also displayed; for example, Linus is almost always depicted holding his blue security blanket—for which he is often mocked by other characters—and often sucks his thumb. He invented his own legendary being, the Great Pumpkin, who, Linus claims, appears every Halloween at the most "sincere" pumpkin patch, bearing gifts. Linus is the only person who believes in the Great Pumpkin, although he occasionally temporarily convinces other characters the Great Pumpkin is real, only to stubbornly maintain his faith when they lose theirs. On one occasion, Linus had a commanding lead in the polls for school president—until he brought up the subject of the Great Pumpkin, at which point he was nearly laughed out of the election. (He ended up winning anyway by one vote, cast by his opponent, who decided that Linus would make a better school president.) A similar occurrence was featured in a strip with the same storyline; Charlie Brown asks him why he had to bring up the Great Pumpkin and Linus gives his reasons. After Linus says that Charlie Brown is looking at him as if he was crazy, Charlie Brown responds, "I'm looking at you like I could've been vice president!"
Linus is almost never seen without his blue security blanket, which debuted in the June 1, 1954, strip. He holds it over his shoulder while sucking his thumb. Ridicule of the habit is not a major concern for him. His friend Roy warned him at summer camp that he would be viciously teased for it; in response, Linus used his blanket like a whip and sheared off a tree branch with intimidating power, saying, "They never tease me more than once." The blanket, it turns out, is an autonomous (although nonverbal) entity. In a 1965 strip, it engaged in a campaign of clandestine attacks on Lucy, even routing her from the house, due to her constant, albeit failed, attempts to get rid of it by throwing it in the trash burner. In the special A Boy Named Charlie Brown, it performed a complex dance routine with Linus upon being reunited with its owner. Linus had lost the blanket, causing him depression, panic attacks, sweating and other withdrawal symptoms.
In the earlier strips, Linus's relationship to his blanket was one of intense emotional attachment to the point of manifesting physical symptoms if he was deprived of it even for a short while. He suffered weakness and dizziness, for example, when Lucy took it from him only long enough to have it laundered, spontaneously recovering when it was restored to him. In A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Linus manifested similar symptoms when he gave his blanket to Charlie Brown. On another occasion, Lucy snatched his blanket away and buried it in an effort to break Linus of his habit. Linus literally dug up the neighborhood for days trying to find it until Snoopy finally dug it up.
Possession of the blanket is often sought by Snoopy, who has used many tricks and subterfuges to relieve Linus of it, even at one point having the blanket delivered to his doghouse. Snoopy commonly runs up, quickly grabs the blanket in his mouth, and drags Linus along with it, then swings him and the blanket around before letting go and sending them both soaring off. Once, Linus was so angry at Snoopy for snatching his blanket again and again that he retaliated by threatening Snoopy's supper dish. Upon hearing that Linus had possession of his most prized possession, Snoopy gave Linus back the blanket fairly quickly, thinking, "I never dreamed he would fight so dirty!". When Lucy buried the blanket, Snoopy took the time to dig for it himself; and when he found it, Linus thanked him, upon which Snoopy thought, "Every now and then I feel that my existence is justified!" Linus always wins and gets the blanket back.
In one strip, Lucy confiscates Linus's blanket, locking it in a closet for two weeks as part of a bet. Linus thinks he can go without the blanket for two weeks and laughs off Lucy and Charlie Brown's differing opinion. After one week Linus begins suffering, and freezing without it; he tries to use Snoopy's ears but Lucy notices and tells him "no substitutes!" After eight days, Linus screams and cries for the blanket. Finally it appears that Linus has lost his mind; Charlie Brown persuades Lucy to give Linus his blanket back when they see Linus lying on the closet door scratching at it in a vain attempt to open it.
Furthermore, there are many stories where Lucy and Linus's grandmother attempts to force him to give up the blanket, only to eventually concede in the face of his steadfast resistance. Two attempts were when the grandmother in question gave up smoking, and when she offered that if he gave up the blanket she would donate ten dollars to his favorite charity. The deal wasn't made because Linus didn't consider it a fair proposition. In another strip, Lucy warns him that she has arrived. Linus reluctantly hands her the blanket and then goes into his room, and says, "I decoyed her with a colored dish towel!"
The April 11, 1983, strip shows Linus saying that he had given up his blanket, and later going from door to door telling people how he gave up his blanket. Once, this results in the girl at the door lashing him with her blanket, in her anger. Twice before Linus actually vows to give up his blanket. Once he threw it away but grabbed it back; another time he was about to tell Charlie Brown about his new resolution when Charlie Brown ruined everything by tossing a blanket onto him. Trying again to give up the blanket, he left it on the side of the road and walked away, quickly running back to it because according to him, it was whimpering.
In one particularly angry confrontation over the issue (the aforementioned blanket-for-smoking episode) Linus admitted that if his mother ordered him to stop, he would comply; but no one else, especially Lucy or the "blanket-hating" grandmother, would have that authority. In fact, in that confrontation, when Lucy decided that he'd gone without the blanket for two weeks and that he no longer needed it, she decided to throw it into the trash burner; Linus, however, was able to intervene at the last second and retrieve his blanket, reminding her that if their mother wanted him to give up the blanket he'd do it, but until then it was nobody else's business. Never objecting, the mother was evidently content to let her unusually intelligent son grow out of the habit on his own. In later strips, Linus is shown with it less and less, and Schulz admitted in 1989 that Linus had finally outgrown the blanket, and it was only in the strip when required for the humor. In one comic, Linus suddenly stops sucking his thumb and says "It's a good thumb, but not a great thumb." The special Why, Charlie Brown, Why?, released the following year, is the only one in which Linus is never seen with his blanket; nor is it even mentioned, arguably to make Linus appear more mature given the special's serious subject. Eventually, however, he is reunited with it.
Linus has brown hair and normally wears a red shirt with stripes on it, black shorts, and tennis shoes. On February 5, 1962, Linus began wearing eyeglasses after being diagnosed with myopia, but after the Sunday strip of September 9, 1962, the glasses were not seen again. In an earlier strip of July 17 1962, Linus had told Charlie Brown that his ophthalmologist said he may not have to wear his glasses all the time: thus explaining their eventual disappearance.
Linus is Charlie Brown's best friend. Linus is sympathetic towards Charlie Brown, and often gives him advice after listening to Charlie Brown's various insecurities. Similarly, Charlie Brown generally observes Linus's faults, such as his undying faith in the Great Pumpkin, his dependence on his security blanket, or any of his other odd quirks. They are also together in an allegiance over a common enemy: Lucy, who harasses and bullies Charlie Brown as much as she does Linus. The two are often seen having discussions while sitting on a street curb or leaning up against the brick wall. At some point in the strip, Linus begins to appear sitting behind Charlie Brown in school, despite being a year younger.
Linus generally plays second base on Charlie Brown's baseball team, but has substituted as pitcher for Charlie Brown when the latter has been unable to pitch. On these occasions, Linus's skill has served to propel the team onto an uncharacteristic winning streak.
Crushes and admirers
Upon the introduction of Charlie Brown's little sister, Sally Brown, in 1959, Linus had the desire to marry her. However, as the strip progressed, he outgrew this idea, while Sally on the other hand fell in love with Linus, calling him her "Sweet Babboo", much to his displeasure. Linus in turn has an innocent crush on his school teacher, Miss Othmar (later Mrs. Hagemeyer). In some of the later 1990s strips he developed an interest in Lydia, the girl who sits behind him, who keeps changing her name and, as Linus is two months older than she asks him, "Aren't you kind of old for me?" (This is a subtle reference to cartoonist Schulz and his own second wife, who was twenty years younger than him). It was also Linus who first introduced Frieda, as "...a sort of a friend of mine" who sat behind him in school. He also fell for several different girls in various animated television specials, as well as a girl called Truffles, whom he and Snoopy met while looking for the fungi bearing her name.
Lucy van Pelt
Linus is often bullied by his older sister Lucy, to which he responds by either giving in or taking revenge.
Linus often defuses and defeats Lucy's bullying through passive resistance and clever use of his intellect, either logically talking Lucy out of hitting him or confusing her into submission. Later in the strip, the pair got a younger brother, Rerun, who looks nearly identical to Linus, though smaller. Coincidentally, this occurred at the same time Lucy kicked Linus out of the house, leading her to cry in dismay: "A new baby brother? But I just got rid of the old one!"
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- Pendergast, Tom (2000). St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. St. James Press. p. 25. ISBN 1-55862-404-X.
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