Review: Peter Pan

Peter Pan
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Peter Pan refuses to grow up and refuses his or any mother.
On the surface this is just a lark, to extol the glories of childhood, when you are "innocent, gay and heartless." But heartless, there's the rub. Heartless meaning you have no loyalty to parents or friends, it's just all about your adventure. This causes Wendy grief, and she does grow up in the end. Contrary to popular opinion, the author doesn't put this across as a tragedy. It isn't as though NO ONE should grow up.

Interesting to me was the mother theme. Everyone longs for one, but when you're in Neverland playing make believe, there can be no real mother. A child's play and a mother are mutually exclusive. Peter denies he ever had a mother, and scorns them to the lost boys. But even pirates long for their mother. Fathers and nurses are interchangeable and secondary, but mother is the anchor.

Another theme is appearances. Hook and Mr. Darling are parallels, both craving approval and to be seen in good form. But Hook holds on to it selfishly to his death, while Mr. Darling humbles himself, giving up the chase for reputation, and is thus exalted (in a fashion).

Besides this, there isn't much of redeeming value here. It's a decent story and it doesn't carry a lot of worldview freight. Not every story has to. Neither is there much damaging to the truth, here. Kids DO have an impulse to fly away and have adventures apart from their parents. But nature also says they need their parents.

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