Classic, Fantasy, Fiction
Published in 1911
Peter Pan is the tale of a boy who finds the fountain of youth located on the 'second star to the right and straight off 'till morning'. That place is Neverland. In Neverland there are adventures to be had, and it is the dreamiest world to be for any young boy, because it contains all the fantasies with none of the responsibilities of getting older. Peter and the lost boys fight pirates, they can fly, they magically have food to eat and they get to run around with real swords and weapons! There is never a bedtime to be kept, no rules, no nagging or chores to do, there is time for everything in a life free of cares and hardships.
When Peter brings in Wendy and her siblings though, things start to get funky. The lost boys begin to dream of the mother they have never had, of a mother who loves them. For a while Wendy fills this role, but then she too misses her own mother.
Peter Pan is certainly a classic worthy of all the hype as it has graced the stages from Broadway to Disney, to Hollywood, to so many different book publishers who hope to carry on this glorious favourite. I think somewhere in marketing however has made a mistake. I believe the story should not be marketed towards children, as they have yet to know what the abandoning of youth really means, but that it should be read more often by adults. Kids grasp the fun that this Neverland world would be, but neglect to see the implications of living there forever.
I don't cry when I read books, so I was astonished when I cried in the final lines of Peter Pan. It is that forgetting of childhood, of moving to a new season, of letting go of things that were once all that you dreamed of and thought about. I have never understood it more clearly than with the finishing of this text, the sadness that it would be to live as a child for the rest of your life and watch everything else grow and change except you.
For me this book is a coming of age tale, a choice we all have to make of weather to stay in our own fantasies, of having everything taken care of for us or actually having the bravery to face our fears and then enjoy along with the responsibilities, these are the benefits of aging. More than a dream, to live forever in an mortal world would be a curse, it makes me sad thinking about it, Peter is not a hero but a victim of a place and an imagination that he cannot will himself to escape for fear. We are meant to embrace each new stage, each step and grow and learn with them. I loved the impact that Peter Pan had on me as an adult. When I was younger I really didn't get the point, and it seemed so anti-climactic in the end, I didn't get it at all. I am in love with this classic now for sure. I can relate in so many ways to the war of embracing the future- while still longing for the past, the fear things will change and not knowing how that will feel. There is also no question about it, Peter Pan gets all my chickens clucking and the Stellar Five Chicken Book Award.
Have you ever read Peter Pan? What is your favourite children's classic? Have you found out like me that when you read a childhood classic later on in life it has much more meaning than when you were a kid? Which classic was it?
Cover of 1915 edition of J.M. Barrie's novel, first published in 1911.
Peter Pan playing the pipes, from the novel Peter and Wendy published in 1911