Title: Peter Pan
Author: J.M. Barrie (Illustrated by F.D. Bedford)
Genre: Children’s Lit/Classic
Page Count: 191
Publication Date: My copy was published in 2014; the story was originally a play released in 1904 that became a novel in 1911
The delays continue as life keeps getting busier. I’ll be starting a new job in July, but had to put my two weeks in with my old one first. My fiance and I also had the joy of hosting some friends and family over the last two weekends in our new home, so I’ve been unable to take my free time to read. July should (hopefully) go smoother. Without further ado, please enjoy.
As I read more classics throughout my journey with this blog, I’ve found that there are two branches of the genre. Classics that stand the test of time and classics that don’t. Unfortunately, Barrie’s Peter Pan falls into the don’t category.
Ironically, or maybe intentionally, the adults really ruin this story. My interpretation of the novel might be skewed by Disney’s 1953 cartoon adaptation of the story which completely eliminates Mr. and Mrs. Darling from the storyline and simply focuses on the children.
Mr. Darling is a haughty, self-absorbed, upper middle-class man that seems to learn nothing over the course of the book. If anything saves him, it’s the way Barrie writes the about him. There’s a level of snark and sarcasm that oozes through the chapters highlighting Mr. Darling that make me believe Barrie didn’t have much respect for this character either. Mrs. Darling is very obsolete until the second-to-last chapter of the book. She’s very seen but not heard– and in a way Wendy is the same, even though she’s the second most important character in the novel.
In the end, I found Peter Pan to really highlight how children are simply mimicking what adults teach them. For example, the only reason Peter wants Wendy around is so that she can do his spring cleaning and be a mother to himself and his fellow Lost Boys. He doesn’t see her as an equal but revels in the novelty of her. I can’t say that Peter respects Wendy, but there is a clear admiration for her seeing as she’s the only girl in Neverland for most of the book.
And don’t get me started on the femme fatale character, Tinker Bell. She is the embodiment of stereotypical overly emotional and jealous woman. The evident love triangle between herself, Wendy, and Peter is every bit as creepy and nonsensical as it sounds.
Barrie expresses that girls are seen as smarter and maybe better than the boys in Neverland, but in the end Wendy is forgotten by Peter and replaced by her daughter, Jane. Jane is then replaced by her daughter, Margaret and so on. All of them are only seen and never heard.
Peter Pan has a magical quality to it but as a woman that hopes to be a mother in the future, I don’t see a need– or even a want– to read this story to my hypothetical kids. The only thing it teaches kids that is worth knowing is to always believe in fairies.
You can purchase Peter Pan here if you are interested in reading. I will be reviewing Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for the month of July, which you can purchase here if you’d like to read along. The review will be up July 25th. Stay tuned for this month’s florilegium, coming out this Sunday, July 4th.