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Violet Gray

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For the one-off character from the movie Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!), see Violette
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Violet.

Violet Gray is a major female character in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. Her most recognizable feature is her trademark ponytail. Her closest friends are Lucy and Patty.

One of the strip's earlier characters dating from 1951, Violet was seen less frequently after other female characters such as Lucy, Sally, and Peppermint Patty were introduced and developed in the 1950s and 60s. Post-1970s appearances by Violet are rare, and after that she was usually seen only as a background character. Her last appearance was in 1997.

History

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The first appearance of Violet from February 7, 1951.

Violet made her debut on February 7, 1951, making her the first major character to join the cast of the original four Peanuts characters (which consisted of Charlie Brown, Patty, Shermy, and Snoopy). She is best friends with Patty and they would often appear together as a duo. In the early strips, Violet was often portrayed as a preschool-aged Suzy Homemaker: making mud pies, playing "house," and imagining romantic scenarios involving her and Charlie Brown. On rare occasions, Violet was shown walking and keeping company with Shermy. She also collects stamps as a hobby and plays left field (and sometimes third base) on Charlie Brown's baseball team, usually popping up in that capacity from time to time in later strips.

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

Violet never really developed a strong personality, especially when compared to the three characters who are introduced right after her (Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus). She would eventually be utilized as a straight woman to set up a punchline, almost similiar to that of Patty's role in the strip. However, while Violet first appeared a few months after Patty, Violet would go on to become a much more prominent character. In later years, it became rare for Violet to appear in the same strip as Patty. After Patty disappeared in 1976, Violet kept on appearing, mostly hanging around with her other friend Lucy, and often was left with very little to do besides antagonizing Charlie Brown. Schulz spoke of such characters 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 has Violet setting up a toy farmyard, including a house, barn, tractor and tree which is suddenly hit by Charlie Brown's kite. Charlie Brown looks embarrassed but not so worried as he was when his kite had hit Lucy's hand in a previous strip and, as the cast of characters grew, Violet was left with very little to do besides antagonizing Charlie Brown.

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The only time Violet's surname "Gray" is mentioned in the strip from April 4, 1953.

Her birthday is unofficially celebrated by Peanuts fans on June 17. Charlie Brown and "Pig-Pen" attend her birthday party on that date in 1962 (although in the February 22, 1951 strip, she mentions that her birthday was "a month ago", and in the January 29, 1955, strip, Charlie Brown claims her birthday was "yesterday"). Her surname, Gray, was mentioned only once, on April 4, 1953.

Appearance

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Violet appears without her ponytail in the strip from November 23, 1962.

She is drawn with shoulder-length dark hair and is usually seen wearing a dress (although in later strips she is often shown wearing pants). Schulz originally alternated her hairstyle between braids and a ponytail, but within a few years she appeared exclusively with the ponytail look (her braids made a return in the January 10, 1989 strip). In fact, it became so rare to see her without a ponytail that in the strip from November 23, 1962, Linus is startled enough to ask why she is wearing her hair down on her way to school. She yells that it is because her mother did not have time to comb her hair, since she was in such a hurry to go to Linus' house to play pool with his mother. In the animated cartoons, her dress is colored green but in some media, it is colored purple.

Personality

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Violet brags in the strip from December 29, 1953.

Violet's most consistent personality trait is that she tends to be a bit of a snob, oftentimes being very self-conscious of her appearance and status. It is implied that her family enjoys a considerably higher class standing than the other characters. Both of her parents are college graduates and her father earns more money than Charlie Brown's (although the latter is not much of a claim since Mr. Brown is a barber). In one strip, she orders Linus to dress more stylishly, whereupon he quickly transforms 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 elevated social standards, especially towards Charlie Brown, to whom she flatly states in one strip, "It simply goes without saying that you are an inferior human being." His adroit reply to that was, "If it goes without saying, why did you have to say it?!".

Being supposedly of an upper-class upbringing, Violet also makes it a point to frequently brag about her father. This sometimes leads driving Charlie Brown to the point of aggravation, to which Violet's boastings to him are always comparative; to wit, she says, "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 for a moment when Charlie Brown takes her to his dad's barber shop. After telling her about how his dad always smiles at him no matter how bad of a workday he is having, an overwhelmed Violet walks away, but not before quietly wishing Charlie Brown a Happy Father's Day. Her bragging on her dad backfires again in another strip when "5" fires back, "My dad goes to PTA meetings!". Charlie Brown once managed to deflate her with the comeback: "My dad has a son."

Relationships

Patty

Violet and Patty are best friends and they would often appear as a duo. They mostly talked about how much they disliked Charlie Brown, although in the early days, they talked about how much they liked him. They also ganged up against him and abused him verbally.

Charlie Brown

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Violet is impressed by Charlie Brown's masculinity in the strip from July 20, 1951.

In the early years of the strip, Violet's relationship with Charlie Brown seem to change day to day. In some strips, Violet would tell Charlie Brown how much she likes him, and be concerned about whether or not he liked her back. On other occasions, she would be mean and rude to Charlie Brown, and try to annoy him and hurt his feelings. As her appearances became less frequent in the later years of the strip, her mercurial nature was, however, unchanged: sometimes she would use any excuse to bring Charlie Brown down or elevate herself above him; while other times the two were quite cordial, often spending the day together chatting.

Lucy

Violet and Lucy are friends, although they are sometimes seen fighting each other, verbally in the strip. In later years, when Patty had already disappeared decades earlier, Violet was almost exclusively seen with Lucy only. They seem to enjoy making fun of Charlie Brown, but not as much as when Violet was with Patty. They have mocked Charlie Brown many times in TV specials, most notably in Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Back in the earlier days of the strip, Violet acted like sort-of a motherhen to Lucy, and treated her as her surrogate younger sister, similar to Patty.

Pig Pen

Violet always mocks and insults "Pig-Pen". In one strip, Violet attempts to shame "Pig-Pen" by making him look in a mirror. She asks him, "Aren't you ashamed?" to which "Pig-Pen" replies, "On the contrary. I didn't think I looked this good." He has also told Violet "I forgot to rake my hair" when she criticized him for having leaves in his hair in the November 16, 1984 strip. In the Peanuts computer game, It's the Big Game, Charlie Brown, "Pig-Pen" says that he is in love with Violet, due to her habit of making mud pies. However, this has never been stated in the comic strip, and therefore cannot be considered canon. But it has been hinted in the strip, for example, in one early strip, "Pig-Pen" cleans up after seeing Violet hug Snoopy, complaining that no one ever hugged him this way, to impress her and possibly get a hug.

Snoopy

Violet has a good relationship with Snoopy and unlike Lucy, she is not afraid to be licked or kissed by him. In one strip, Lucy lashes out at the dog, but Violet comforts him and hugs him. Violet can frequently be seen cuddling with Snoopy, especially in the 50's.

Her abuse of Charlie Brown

Verbal abuse

Violet's verbal assaults on Charlie Brown (usually in tandem with Patty) can be quite cruel - sometimes exceeding even the severity of Lucy's insults. A classic example of this is in the strip from May 3, 1961, in which Violet is seen lashing out at Charlie Brown, finishing him off with the line, "And I don't care if I ever see you again, do you hear me?!" Linus walks in and notices that Charlie Brown is really hurt. Charlie Brown then points out that Violet has not taken all the life out of him, lamenting "but you can number me among the walking wounded."

Violet is also the first person to call Charlie Brown a 'blockhead', in the strip from August 16, 1951, a trait that would later be taken over by Lucy.[1]

Another example shows Patty and Violet reciting a very mean-spirited poem, pointing out that "Boys are rotten filled with cotton" and that "Girls are dandy filled with candy!" They then walk away smugly, where Charlie Brown retaliates with the phrase, "Generalities!!!" Still another involves 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.

Her verbal abuse was not only confined to Charlie Brown. At one point, Violet berated Linus for liking the Great Pumpkin. She called him "just plain stupid crazy," said he was talking "like someone who had just fallen out of a tree" and also called him "stark raving stupid!"

"We're having a party, and you're not invited!"

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Violet and Patty tell Charlie Brown he is not invited to a party in the strip from October 15, 1952.

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 prefer to use social exclusion as their weapon, sometimes going to the extremes of making him feel like an outcast. This can be seen as a caricature of the "in crowd" that exists at many elementary and secondary schools - a lording of their own status over peers who are not members of the "in." For example, in one strip they invite him to join their "secret club," and then immediately reject him after he accepts. In an early Sunday strip, Patty and Violet put Charlie Brown and Shermy to work building a clubhouse for them, only to hang a "No Boys Allowed" sign on the clubhouse door after it is finished.[2]

On several other occasions, especially in the early years of the strip, Patty and Violet go out of their way - sometimes with unconcealed glee - to make sure Charlie Brown knows that they are throwing a party and he is not invited. However, Charlie Brown manages to get back at them on several occasions:

  • In one strip, when they mention excluding Charlie Brown from their party, he lets it roll off his back saying he does not want to go to their "dumb ol' party" anyway. After he leaves, they wonder whether he meant it. Violet is convinced he did, so Patty suggests "In that case, maybe we'd better invite him."[3]
  • In another similar situation, he replies to them saying if they do not like him they are better off not inviting him. Stunned to silence, the girls simply walk away, with Charlie Brown smiling after them.
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Charlie Brown's unusually aggressive response to Violet and Patty's taunt in the strip from September 1, 1954.

  • In the strip from September 1, from 1954, Charlie Brown uncharacteristically threatens to strafe, then bomb their house if he is not invited, to which both girls state "Okay, you're invited."[4]
  • In another strip, he tells the girls that he does not care and runs off laughing, only to become disappointed at being rejected when he is out of sight from them.[5]

Physical violence

Violet also differs from Lucy in that she is less often prone to using physical violence against Charlie Brown. In one Sunday strip, an angry Violet is seen chasing Charlie Brown, threatening to "knock (his) block off". Before she can throw a punch, Charlie Brown stops her and tries to reason with her, saying that there are better ways to solve problems than with violence. Unfazed, Violet ends up punching him 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!"

Film and TV appearances

Violet appears 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 and Linda Ercoli (who also voiced Peppermint Patty) from 1972-1975.

Her most recent appearance in TV specials was in Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, where she is voiced by Blesst Bowden. It is unknown if she will appear in the upcoming 2015 film Peanuts.

Violet's TV and film appearances are as follows:

Later years

Violet was a prominent character in Peanuts until the late-1960's, where her appearances began gradually decreasing. Not much was seen of her after 1984, and she had virtually disappeared from the strip by that year. But even after that, Violet kept on making occasional cameo appearances as a minor character throughout the 1980's and into the 1990's. She last appeared in the November 27, 1997 strip, along with Patty.

Violet's appearances from 1984 until 1999:

  • November 16, 1984
  • November 19, 1985
  • January 10, 1989
  • January 27, 1990
  • September 28, 1990
  • September 3, 1991
  • December 5, 1991
  • May 10, 1992
  • November 25, 1992
  • April 26, 1993
  • April 17, 1995
  • November 12, 1996
  • November 27, 1997 (Patty shares this final appearance with her)

Trivia

  • Violet is one of the many Peanut characters to appear in the video game Snoopy's Street Fair, in which, she owns a cookie booth. She is much nicer to Charlie Brown in the game, and even offers him a free cookie when he walks over to her stand.

Gallery

References

  1. Peanuts comic strip from August, 16, 1951
  2. Peanuts comic strip from February 3, 1952
  3. Peanuts comic strip from November 23, 1951
  4. Peanuts comic strip from September 1, 1954
  5. Peanuts comic strip from October 15, 1952

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