7

So in December 22nd, 1985, Charles Schulz made this following Christmas themed Sunday panel featuring Linus and Sally. Linus is reading Sally the second chapter of the Book of Luke (from the Bible), and makes a remark about how King Augustus is near-forgotten while Jesus has an entire holiday dedicated to his birth. Then Sally remarks a rather egotistical statement about how everyone loves her, with Snoopy looking shocked. Linus starts walking away and when Sally asks why he isn't finishing the story he says, "I think you already finished it."

This panel always confused me. I know there's some sort of message here, but I never understood it. It's not true that no one paid any attention to Sally when she was born, because Charlie Brown literally ran out of the house screaming "I'm a father - I mean my Dad's a father - I'm a brother! I have a baby sister" With Linus comically telling Lucy "You didn't act that way when I was born."

Later Charlie Brown pretty much throws a party with everyone getting chocolate cigars (including Snoopy) and talking about how proud he is to be a big brother.

Can someone explain this strip?

enter image description here

8

I think this is a play on the word "finished". Relevant definitions of "finish" from Google are:

bring (a task or activity) to an end; complete.
"they were straining to finish the job"

kill, destroy, or comprehensively defeat.
"the English men-at-arms finished them off in hand-to-hand combat".

As regards the latter definition, Dictionary.com tells us that

Meaning "to kill" is from 1755

The story Linus is telling has two points to it. In the first, it is a reminder that the original meaning of Christmas is literally Christian. It celebrates the birth of a figure who encouraged charity and humility. In the second, he reflects on the reasons why certain historical figures are remembered and others are forgotten, and how impossible it is to predict.

Sally's reply indicates she has understood neither point. Her focus is entirely selfish and greedy, showing she has no interest in the wider Christian message of the festival. Her narrow statement that "now everyone loves me" shows her ignorance of the point Linus is making about the vast unlikeliness of being remembered or the reasons why a few people are.

She then asks for the story to be "finished" in the sense of the first definition: to be completed. Linus' reply is that she has "finished" it in the sense of the second: she has essentially "killed" it with her total failure to understand its message.

  • You're quoting the definition for the adjective finished, not the past tense of the verb finish. And I don't think that to finish means to render something pointless. Maybe figuratively, but not the literal kind of definition you would find in a dictionary – b a Jul 4 at 11:49
  • 1
    @ba Except ... I did find that literal definition in a literal dictionary. Think about the phrase "finish him" used to denote a command to kill someone: the tense is irrelevant. Sally has "killed" Linus' story. – Bob Tway Jul 4 at 13:01
  • 1. This isn't about tense, it's about part of speech. 2. "Not able to continue after a failure" isn't the same as "pointless" – b a Jul 4 at 14:05
  • 2
    @ba I thought it was you who raised the issue of tense in the original comment? And while I take your "point" about "pointless", I think a little latitude in interpreting the meaning is called for: this is about word-play after all. "Finished it" as in "killed it" by failing to understand its meaning. I'll edit to try and make this clearer. – Bob Tway Jul 4 at 14:08
  • 1
    Ahhh this makes sense, thank you! I never realized it was a play on words – North Jul 4 at 14:58
1

He's saying she finished it because she essentially just told the rest of the story.

(My Christian theology is a bit sketchy, but I think I know enough to explain my thought process here.)

Linus is telling, literally, the story of Jesus. He's going over his birth when Sally cuts in, saying

Nobody paid any attention when I was born either, but now everyone loves me, and I'm gonna get so many presents for Christmas, it'll make your head swim!

What Sally is saying here could easily be a description of Jesus. Linus has just shown that "nobody paid any attention" when he was born. Now, though, "everybody loves me" - Jesus is a pretty major part of one of the largest religions in the world.

Christmas is supposedly a celebration of Jesus's birth. If I understand correctly, when Jesus was born, three men showed up bearing gifts for him. So, at Christmas, he received a lot of gifts.

Basically, what Sally is saying here could easily be understood as "finishing" the story that Linus was telling, as what she's saying can be interpreted as the rest of the story of Jesus.

  • Hmm that’s an interesting perspective – North Jul 17 at 14:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.