THE BLOG
10/31/2012 12:09 pm ET Updated Dec 30, 2012

Why Would the Adults Handing Out Candy on Halloween Selectively Give Charlie Brown a Rock?

This question originally appeared on Quora.
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By Justin Freeman, Former Police Officer

Because among his group, Charlie represents the oppressed everyman.

The reason the strip has endured in our collective psyche (and the Peanuts gang has been about eight years old for six decades) is that we all know them. Well, to be fair, we all know someone like them. Among the group, there's:

  • Snoopy: Your favorite dog ever
  • Linus: Your deceptively wise, long-suffering best friend
  • Lucy: That football-yanking bitch you have to find a way to co-exist with
  • Schroeder: The hyper-focused overachiever
  • Sally: Your annoying sibling that you love anyway
  • Peppermint Patty: The confident, aggressive tomboy

And then there's Charlie Brown - whom you don't know an analog for, because he is you. He's always been all of us, even from the very beginning:

Here's Charlie, bebopping down the street, chipper, minding his own, lauded by a bystander along the way ... until he's out of earshot. Then the truth comes out. And for the next fifty years, Charlie gets stepped on. He manages a terrible baseball team; he's got a quack psychiatrist; he can't get past his own insecurities to ask the little red-haired girl out. And the world is generally, inexplicably, aligned against him.

And therein lies the answer to this question. Even seemingly cloaked in anonymity, and even being anonymous among the anonymous (there were four ghosts, after all), somehow the world can still see under the sheet - it somehow still knows how to dump on him. This is our condition, boiled all the way down. Why would an adult give a child - any child - a rock?

The same reason those in power over us do us the injustices they do - those nameless, faceless powers-that-be with their mangled voices and their indecipherable intentions: It apparently suits their purposes. And for Charlie, as is often the case with us, there is no real recourse - no pounding on the offender's door, no chucking the rock through the window, not even sustained complaint. After each disappointment, the response is simply a rueful observation: "I got a rock." There's nothing else to do, after all - Charlie has no chips here, as is often the case with us.

We all root for Charlie, even if often in vain, because we share biography bylines: The powerless, powering on.

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