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Violet (Peanuts)

Violet Gray is a character in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.

Violet has shoulder-length dark hair, and she frequently wears green dresses (switching to pants in the winter and in later years). Schulz changed her hairstyle between braids and a ponytail in the early strips, but after a few years she dropped the braids and went exclusively with the ponytail, which became arguably her most famous trademark. It became so rare to see her without a ponytail, in fact, that when she showed up without it on the way to school one day, Linus was startled enough to ask why she was wearing her hair down. She yelled that it was because her mother hadn't had time to comb her hair, since she was in such a hurry to go to Linus's house to play pool with his mother.

Her birthday is unofficially celebrated by Peanuts fans on June 17, as Charlie Brown and Pig-Pen attended her birthday party on that date in 1962 (although in a February 22, 1951 strip she said her birthday was a month ago, and in a January 29, 1955 strip Charlie Brown claimed her birthday was yesterday).

Role in Peanuts

Violet and Patty are best friends, and the two began appearing together almost from the beginning of the strip. Patty was one of the four original characters (along with Charlie Brown, Shermy, and Snoopy), and Violet was the first new major character to join the cast, debuting on February 7, 1951. Her surname was mentioned only once, on April 4, 1953. In the early strips, Violet often acted like a preschool-age Suzy Homemaker: making mud pies, playing "house," and being linked to romantic scenarios involving Charlie Brown. She also collects stamps as a hobby.

Violet never really developed a strong personality, especially compared to the next three characters who would be introduced after her (Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus). She tended to be used mostly as a straight woman to set up the punchline. Schulz admitted as much in a 1988 interview. "Some characters just don't seem to have enough personality to carry out ideas," he said, referring to Violet, Patty and Shermy. "They're just almost born straight men."

A good example had Violet setting up a toy farmyard, including a house, barn, tractor and tree which was suddenly hit by Charlie Brown's kite. Charlie Brown looks embarrassed, but not so worried as he was when his kite hit Lucy's hand in a previous strip.

As the cast of characters grew, Violet was left with very little to do besides antagonizing Charlie Brown. She also played outfield (and sometimes third base) on Charlie Brown's baseball team, and popped up in that capacity from time to time in later strips.

Snobbery

Violet's most consistent personality trait is that she tends to be a bit of a snob, very conscious of appearances and status. It is implied that her family enjoys a considerably higher class position than the other characters'. Both of her parents are college graduates and her father makes more money than Charlie Brown's, though the latter isn't much of a claim since Mr. Brown is a barber. She once ordered Linus to dress more stylishly when they were walking together, whereupon he quickly transformed his blanket into an ascot. She also frequently criticizes Pig-Pen for his inability to keep himself clean. Violet often looks down on people who fail to meet her social standards, especially Charlie Brown, to whom she once stated flatly, "It simply goes without saying that you are an inferior human being."

Being supposedly of upper-class upbringing, Violet also makes it a point to brag frequently about her father, especially to Charlie Brown, sometimes driving him to the point of aggravation. Violet's fatherly boastings were always comparative; to wit, she would say, "My dad is taller than your dad", or "My dad has more credit cards than your dad". But in a Father's Day strip her boasts are quelled, at least for the moment, when Charlie Brown takes her to his dad's barber shop. After telling her about how his dad would always smile at him no matter how bad of a workday he was having, an overwhelmed Violet walked away, but not before quietly wishing Charlie Brown a Happy Father's Day. Her bragging on her dad backfired another time when 5 fired back with "My dad goes to PTA meetings!" Charlie Brown once managed to deflate her with the comeback: "My dad has a son."

Her abuse of Charlie Brown

Verbal abuse

Violet's verbal assaults of Charlie Brown (usually in tandem with Patty) could be quite cruel - sometimes exceeding even the severity of Lucy's insults. A classic example of this was where Violet is lashing out at Charlie Brown, yet again, and then finishes him off with "And I don't care if I ever see you again, do you hear me?!" Apparently, this tongue lashing was quite vicious, as Linus walks in and notices that Charlie Brown was really hurt. Charlie Brown said that Violet hadn't taken all the life out of him, "but you can number me among the walking wounded."

Another example had Patty and Violet reciting a very mean-spirited poem basically pointing out that "Boys are rotten filled with cotton" and that "Girls are dandy filled with candy!" and then walking off smugly, where Charlie Brown retaliates with the phrase, "Generalities!!!" Still another involved the two berating Charlie Brown (in front of Linus) about a wrong answer Charlie Brown gave to a teacher's question, both going so far as to call him "stupid" and then walking off laughing at him. ("The teacher asked him why they have so much rain in Oregon... and [Charlie Brown] said, 'Because they have a lot of clouds!'") Once, after Violet's assault on Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown remarked to Linus that she took him down "step by step, line by line, verse by verse". Linus replied, "It sounds like you are a victim of higher criticism!".

"We're Having A Party, and You're Not Invited!"

While Lucy's insults tend to be fairly blunt - calling Charlie Brown names like "blockhead" and making sarcastic remarks at his expense - Patty and Violet preferred to use social exclusion as their weapon, sometimes going to extremes to make him feel like an outcast. In that way, they can be seen perhaps as a caricature of the "in crowd" that exists at many elementary and secondary schools, lording their status over their peers who, in their eyes, are not "in". For example, they once invited him to join their "secret club", then rejected him after he accepted. In one early Sunday strip, Patty and Violet forced Charlie Brown and Shermy to build a clubhouse for them, without even a break. However, the fact that they hung a "No Boys Allowed" sign on the clubhouse door after it was finished made the possibility of malice debatable. The No Boys thing obviously is sexist.

On many other occasions, especially in the early years of the strip, Patty and Violet went out of their way - sometimes with unconcealed glee, to make sure Charlie Brown knew that they were throwing a party and he wasn't invited. But Charlie Brown sometimes managed to turn the tables on the two girls. For example:

  • One time when they mentioned excluding Charlie Brown from their party, he let it roll off his back saying he didn't want to go to their "dumb ol' party" anyway. After he left, they pondered whether he meant it. Violet was convinced he did, so Patty suggested "In that case, maybe we'd better invite him."
  • In another similar situation, he replied to them saying if they didn't like him they were better off not inviting him. Stunned to silence, the girls just walked away, with Charlie Brown smiling after them.
  • In yet another strip from 1954, Charlie Brown uncharacteristically threatened to strafe, then bomb their house if he wasn't invited, to which both girls stated "Okay, you're invited."

Physical violence

Another contrast to Lucy was physical violence; Violet's physical attacks, especially on Charlie Brown, were much fewer and further between. In one Sunday strip, an angry Violet was chasing Charlie Brown threatening to "knock (his) block off". Before she could throw the punch, Charlie Brown stopped her and tried to reason with her that there were better ways to solve problems than with violence. Violet ended up punching him anyway in the middle of his speech, and in the final panel admits to Patty, "I had to hit him quick. He was beginning to make sense!"

But Violet's fighting side backfired on her at times, too; In one particular Sunday strip Violet tries matching her in-fighting prowess against Lucy's by throwing a barrage of insults at her- from a distance. But when Violet physically gets in Lucy's face, Lucy blasts back with, "You're a no-good, tale-tattling, little sneaking snip-snap pony-tailed ape!!". Visibly shaken, Violet retreats, as Lucy smiles smugly. (The whole incident was observed by Linus and Charlie Brown, the latter remarking on Violet's choice of words saying "I'm glad it's not me she's yelling at. I'd never be able to take it!")

Notably, Violet was the first character ever not to let Charlie Brown kick a football (on November 14, 1951). However, her reason for pulling away was for fear of him kicking her hand, whereas Lucy's motivation was sheer malice.

Violet's last appearance

Violet's last official appearance in the Peanuts world came on November 16, 1984, although unnamed characters strongly resembling her would make occasional cameo appearances afterwards. Her most recent appearance to this date was 1996.

Portrayals

Violet also appeared in several of the animated Peanuts television specials. Voice actors who played Violet over the years include Ann Altieri (who also voiced Frieda) from 1965-1969, Linda Ercoli (who also voiced Peppermint Patty) from 1972-1975, and most recently Jolean Wejbe in the 2006 TV special He's A Bully, Charlie Brown.

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