Charlie Brown is many things: an almost perennial loser but, at the same time, a leader. Anxious and shy, but friendly and good-natured. Pessimistic but capable of moments of great optimism. He would do anything to help his friends — including his dog, Snoopy — but frequently fails to help himself. But one thing is consistent: Charlie Brown is not a quitter. Whatever life throws at him, he keeps on going.
The charismatic icon made his official debut in the first Peanuts comic strip in 1950. The creator, Charles M. Schulz, put much of himself in Charlie Brown, and even named some of Charlie’s friends after his own, including Linus, Shermy, and Peppermint Patty. At the same time, Charlie is an archetypal lovable loser. Schulz himself said that “Charlie Brown must be the one who suffers, because he’s a caricature of the average person. Most of us are much more acquainted with losing than winning. Winning is great, but it isn’t funny.”
It’s true, Charlie does suffer, whether from the barbed comments of the bullying Lucy van Pelt or from his unrequited obsession with the Little Red-Haired Girl. But it’s from his moments of failure, and his refusal to ever give up, that we get Charlie’s most insightful reflections on the human condition. Here are some of his best words of wisdom, ranging from the melancholic to those rare instances when everything seems right with the world.
Happiness is anyone and anything at all that’s loved by you.
In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back.
Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask, “Where have I gone wrong?” Then a voice says to me, “This is going to take more than one night.”
Love is being able to spot her clear across the playground among four hundred other kids.
A dog doesn't try to give advice, or judge you; they just love you for who you are. It's nice to have someone who will just sit and listen to you.
Grownups are the ones who puzzle me at Christmastime… Who, but a grownup, would ruin a beautiful holiday season for himself by suddenly attempting to correspond with four hundred people he doesn’t see all year?
If it goes without saying, why did you say it?
Dear Pencil-pal, did you have a nice summer? Mine could have been better, but it could have been worse. For me, that's good.
I’m going to give up everything, and devote my life to making my dog happy!
Ah, there's the bell! One more lunch hour out of the way. Two thousand, one hundred and twenty to go!
Real love is standing behind a tree so you can see her when she leaves her house. Of course it can sometimes be embarrassing. Like when you discover you've been standing on the wrong side of the tree.
Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter like unrequited love.
Whenever I feel really alone, I just sit and stare into the night sky. I've always thought that one of those stars was my star, and at moments like this, I know that my star will always be there for me. Like a comfortable voice saying, “Don't give up, kid.”
There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters. I could be their leader.
I don't care what Lucy says. I may have had troubles in the past, flying a kite. I may have never won a baseball game. But, it's not for the lack of trying!
Lots of things have happened to me, and I'm glad I did what I did. You know, I was never sure how I'd be able to stand up under pressure and how I'd make decisions, and I feel good about myself for the first time in my life!
Photo credit: Maximum Film/ Alamy Stock Photo