“I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand!”
As many of you know from my other two articles about Peanuts, it’s one of my all-time favorite comic strips. My favorite character is Linus Van Pelt, the middle child of the Van Pelt family. In fact, I think he may be autistic.
Of all the characters in the strip, Linus seems the most intelligent. His dialogue is often prone to monologues. He will go on talking about any topic he is most interested in, especially the Great Pumpkin, baseball, or the Bible. In the Christmas special, he’s the only one who still knows the true meaning of the holiday–everyone else is too wrapped up in the frivolity and consumerism. In Halloween stories, he’s the only kid who believes in the Great Pumpkin, and the rest of the kids often ridicule him for this. His interest in baseball rivals that of Charlie Brown’s.
Linus’s biggest weakness is his “security blanket”. He’s rarely seen without it, often sucking his thumb while holding it. Perhaps holding it gives him comfort, like holding a stuffed animal does for some children. Whenever Lucy tries to break him of this habit, he will become anxious and panic. Lucy is the only person who even tries to separate him from his blanket. (Well, there’s Snoopy on some occasions, but he just does it as a prank if nothing else.)
Linus is the character I identify with the most. He is the most endearing, philosophical, and honest of the cast. Of all the children, he is the most empathetic to Charlie Brown, and one of the few he can actually call a friend (besides Schroder, Franklin, and Peppermint Patty). Charlie Brown comes to him for advice more often than his own sister, which is kind of funny if you know that Lucy actually has a psychiatric booth. They have philosophical discussions with each other, and he often seems the wisest of the group. With everyone else, Charlie Brown feels awkward, but with Linus, it’s almost like they’re kindred spirits. Linus accepts Charlie Brown for who he is. “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest”, he says in the Christmas special (it’s one of my favorite lines).
For these reasons, I believe Linus is on the spectrum. His intellect makes him seem wiser than the others. His anxiety seems similar to my own, although I’ve outgrown the need for a blanket or some other item to comfort me.