Sunday, June 14, 2009
So, Peter Pan is kind of an asshole. There's actually another word I'd like to call him, but it doesn't seem very blog appropriate. My mom's been making the case for years that Peter Pan is just a little brat, but I wasn't fully convinced (suspected, yes) until I actually read James M. Barrie's story.
The story, I'm sure you know. Peter lures Wendy, John, and Micheal to Neverland so that Wendy can be a mother to the Lost Boys. After a surprisingly long flight, the children arrive and set up a happy little home until the Pirates, lead by Captain James Hook, decide that Wendy should be their mother instead. You already know who saves the day.
So here's the thing: Peter is supposed to be the personification of youth... cocky, selfish, defiant... but Barrie neglects to weave in the genuine kindness that children also possess. For me, Peter was downright unlikeable. Few redeeming qualities. He forgets Wendy, John, and Michael on the flight to Neverland and only runs into them again by chance. He refuses for the Lost Boys to know things he does not or even eat if he's not in the mood. The entire island exhales when he travels away.
I also despise the compromise between Peter, Wendy, and Mrs. Darling. It is agreed that Wendy will go with Peter to Neverland every spring so that she can do Peter's spring cleaning. Really? And I'm not sure if it makes it any better that Peter actually forgets to come for Wendy, his maid...
All of that being said, I did enjoy Barrie's writing style. It is well suited to fantastical adventures. He adds little details to the main plotline, like adding a little nook to the story. My favorite is the description of the tree trying to grow in the children's underground house. They chop it down to make space for playing but it grows just enough to then serve as a table for supper.
Recommendation: If you can suspend all notions of political correctness, feminism, and ignore Peter, it really is an otherwise charming story