EFL Movie Study Guide for:
A Charlie Brown Christmas (Snoopy's
Story: Snoopy’s owner (Charlie Brown, age 8?) is depressed at
Christmastime because of the commercialism of Christmas; that is, everything
seems to be about money and gifts, but it all feels "empty" and meaningless
to him. It is affecting everyone from his dog to his little sister. When
commercialism threatens to take over his grade-school holiday play, Charlie
cries out “Can’t anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?!” The answer is
a refreshing part of Christmas for millions of Americans who watch this show
annually. (Cartoon, comedy; Emmy-award winner; US TV classic from 1965;
about 30 minutes)
Setting: Charlie Brown and his friends are in primary school. Many
schools put on a Christmas play for parents every year, and these children
are preparing for such a presentation.
Charlie Brown: Snoopy's owner (see "note 1")
Sally: Charlie Brown's little sister
Linus: Charlie Brown's best friend
Sally: Linus' bossy big sister
Snoopy: Charlie Brown's dog, though he acts almost like a
person in these cartoons, and he has a great imagination!
Note 1: Charlie Brown (they always use his full name)
has come to symbolize the child who is unpopular because of his looks,
handicap or reputation for "bad luck." Things don't naturally "go right" for
this character, but he never gives up. This optimism in the face of
difficulty has given Charlie lots of fans for over a generation.
Note 2: Because of the popularity of this classic, a
ugly tree at holiday time is sometimes called a "Charlie Brown Christmas
A few terms (vocabulary):
blockhead: (negative, rare, and specifically related to
Snoopy cartoons) a very stupid person; to call someone a blockhead is to
say he is like Charlie Brown
*commercial: relating to profit from business or trade (can
also mean "for industrial use")
*commercialism: (negative) an overemphasis on making
money instead of selling quality products or focusing on the
deeper meaning of a holiday, birthday, etc.
a medical condition involving too much worry, sadness and/or hopelessness
("Did you know that many people say they suffer from depression
during the holidays?")
*to memorize: to put something into your memory (e.g., to
learn a poem by heart). Note: Chinese English-learners often misuse this
word by saying they memorize a person or historical event (which is
not possible); you remember or honor
people, and they can be
memorialized (a passive verb) for their contribution or example. We
events or contributions. We can also remember our
loved ones at a memorial service after they have passed away. People
sometimes build a memorial
to pay tribute to or honor (or memorialize)
a person or event.
"rats!": an informal term used to show that you are
disappointed or annoyed (Charlie Brown says it a lot, so it is often
associated with this character)
*real estate: land or buildings, especially in terms of buying
or selling such things ("People always buy me dumb toys for Christmas, but
what I really want is real estate.")
1. Studies show that a lot of people get depressed during or just after
holidays like Christmas. Tell your partner why you think this happens, and
what depressed people should do about it.
2. According to Charlie Brown's friend Linus, what is Christmas all about?
Explain it to your partner.
3. Charlie Brown refused to "just go along" (agree) with what everyone else
thought was normal when he felt sure there was something better or more
meaningful available. When it is good to "go along" with everyone around
you, and when is it better to find or make your own way?
(For more information about Christmas, see these Christmas pages on our
website: the traditional Christmas story,
who is Santa (圣诞老人)?,
Christmas Perspectives (poem), and the pre-Christmas Advent season.
Also look for Christmas wallpaper
here. You'll also find movie study guides on this website for some
great holiday films: A
Snoopy/Charlie Brown Christmas, Last Holiday,
White Christmas, The
Grinch, Christmas Carol,
a Wonderful Life)