Friday, June 11, 2010

Thoughts on Peter Pan

Peter Pan thinks very highly of himself and doesn’t think about other people at all. Yet it somehow seems natural for him to behave this way. He is the center of Neverland, and he is also the center of his own universe. It seems acceptable and normal for Peter to think highly of himself because he is what all of Neverland revolves around. Peter Pan is a tragic character, but he doesn’t know it. He forgets events and people almost instantly when he’s not around them anymore. He really is alone. He has no memories, even of himself, and he has no family other than the lost boys, and after the events of the book are over even they are taken away from him. No wonder he resents them for choosing to grow up.

One of the only things he remembers long term is to go back twice to see Wendy. Even that he forgets and when he finally does remember to come back, she has grown up and had a child.

Peter Pan has to be self centered, because he’s the only person in his universe. With no memories to hold onto, his life is just himself in whatever adventure is going on right then. He is literally living in the moment. Sometimes in the book it seems that he is not even aware that there are other people who have thoughts and feelings and their own lives. He is only aware of himself, and everyone else is just the background cast for his adventures. What would it be like for him to be so completely alone? He seems to be fine with it, but only because he has chosen to cut himself off from a normal life and so he doesn’t know what it’s like to live in a normal family. He’s self sufficient because he doesn’t know that there’s any other option.

The ending of the book is bittersweet. It is a tragic story because I think Peter realizes that there is another way and there are people outside of himself. He ends up completely alone, more alone than before, but now he is aware of the fact that he is alone. It is only a bittersweet ending and not just a sad one because the reader already knows the nature of Peter Pan, and so we know he’ll forget about it, and never even know that it happened, and be perfectly happy just to be Peter Pan, the center of his own universe.

Peter Pan is likeable just because he is Peter Pan. He is the only one who could ever get away with the things he gets away with and still have an adoring audience and devoted fan base years after the book was published. And people love him because of who he is. If Peter Pan suddenly cared more about other people than about himself, and was humble, or if he had decided to grow up at the end of the book, we wouldn’t love him the same because he just wouldn’t be him. We like to think that there is only one wonderful, magical, brave boy who deserves to think well of himself.

1 comment:

Atlanta said...

excellent critique! very interesting thoughts.