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Vicky Mochama: It's a great metaphor, Charlie Brown

Linus van Pelt is a small American boy in a small American town, with a good (if outsized) head on his shoulders. But his blind faith in the Great Pumpkin raises questions. Why does he cling to that orange apparition like a security blanket?

“There are three things you learn never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin," Mr. Van Pelt said, defensively clutching his blanket into a fist. "I’m tired of being silenced.”

AP PHOTO/WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT

“There are three things you learn never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin," Mr. Van Pelt said, defensively clutching his blanket into a fist. "I’m tired of being silenced.”

In a small American town, a small American boy has become a sign of these troubling times.

In every other way, Linus van Pelt is an ordinary boy. But in the last year, he’s had a very public political awakening. He said the appearance of the Great Pumpkin validated what he had been saying all along.

For others, this moment marked something different.

“It’s noteworthy to me that y’all’s little pumpkin gives gifts to certain little boys and girls,” said fellow resident Franklin after one particularly fraught Halloween.

He paused, “I know I haven’t received one, if you know what I mean.”

Mr. van Pelt on the other hand denies that the Great Pumpkin’s actions are discriminatory. “He rewards good little boys and girls. I am a very good little boy. Are those kids from Chicago as good as me? Probably not.”

As we sat in the pumpkin patch where he first spotted the Great Pumpkin, Mr. Van Pelt became even more defensive, clutching his blanket into a fist, “There are three things you learn never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin. I’m tired of being silenced.”

At times, he is joined by Sally Brown, a blond who once considered herself pumpkin-agnostic. “Then I heard what the other kids were saying and I started to question the official story,” she says.

For years, he’d sat quietly in this green garden while the other children bobbed for apples and went trick-or-treating. Their tales of dancing, candy and laughter couldn’t move him.

“All those people giving and getting free things,” he says. “Sickening.”

He would not countenance that the Great Pumpkin’s bag of gifts for “good little boys” like him were similarly unearned. I put it to him that the Great Pumpkin’s regular promises and attendant failures to appear are indicative of what kind of leader he would be.

Mr. van Pelt says he is used to being criticized and even threatened for his beliefs.

“He’s my brother, but I’m not above pounding him,” says his older sister Lucy.

United Feature Syndicate Inc

In light of her brother’s increasingly strident tones, Lucy and her friends have been arguing about the validity of punching pumpkin nationalists. Arguably, Mr. van Pelt’s ardour for the Great Pumpkin is a result of years of teasing by Lucy.

“Yeah, I’ve heard that argument before but, look, I’ve broken my coccyx three times playing Lucy’s little games,” said Charlie Brown, a balding, nondescript child who is also Mr. van Pelt’s best friend. “But you don’t see me saying the things he does.”

(Mr. Brown insists that his best friend is actually the Brown’s family beagle, Snoopy.)

Mild-mannered in real life, Mr. van Pelt is zealous in letters to the Great Pumpkin. In one he writes, “Everyone tells me you are fake, but I believe you.”

More troubling, his post-script reads, “P.S. If you really are a fake, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know."

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