Tuesday, November 30, 2010

July 23, 1953: Context


This might seem like a throwaway joke, but I think it points to something very important. The characters are missing a commonality of experience that would enable each of them to understand the other.

Without commonality, only with effort can people understand another's perspective. Here, by each assuming the other is speaking in familiar terms, the characters are unable to communicate effectively.

Using Schroeder for this strip works because he's the character with the most dissimilar perspective of the kids. He's an artist, and his focus is a higher goal. This, I would say, is at the root of his differences with Lucy. Even Snoopy is more in tune with the other kids than Schroeder.

We still get strips in which Schroeder is playing ordinary kid games, but as the strip continues we'll see him doing this less and less.


  1. You know, on the rare occasions that I write out a shopping list, I usually write "Chopin Liszt" at the top. I'm not a particularly musical person; I just like puns.

    I don't remember this strip, and I do remember reading a lot of these early strips in collections and having them stick with me. But maybe this is where the seeds of that old, tired running joke came from.

  2. Schulz does other music-related jokes involving Schroeder that assume a familiarity with classical music (I recall at least one Handel pun). This strip makes little sense to a reader who doesn't know who Franz Liszt is; it just seems as though Schroeder can't spell. However, I think that in the '50s people were more literate in terms of classical music than they are today, so a lot more people would have gotten this strip back in 1953 than they would now.

  3. So true about missed opportunities in communication!

    Schroeder figures as the catcher of the baseball team in later strips. He doesn't bring any special wisdom to the role, as I recall. (Unlike, Linus.) He wouldn't be the first artist to have baseball as a side interest.