A Detailed Book Summary of “Peter Pan by J.M Barrie | 2021”

peter pan original book j.m barrie
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Peter Pan book is an evergreen tale that stirs the young. Childhood is often associated with innocence, escapism, zealousness, and vulnerability.

Similarly, Peter Pan is a tale about a boy who never grows up. He is playful, adventurous, and connects with Lost Boys, pirates, and fairies. But is childhood truly eternal? Does Peter Pan truly belong in children’s literature?

Who is going to tell the children that the only perennial thing in life is change? Maybe, time will. Because readers must regard that Peter Pan is also a lost boy. The intact development of the “lost boy” originates from the author’s ordeal.

Therefore, let us start with the details of this peter pan book review.

About Peter Pan

J.M. Barrie composed the play in the year 1904, however, it did not appear in the print format until 1929.

One of his inspirations was exhibited from his friendship with the five young boys who belonged to the Llewellyn Davies family.

He befriended these boys at a park and had a good relationship with the whole family. Barrie recited stories for the children. The Lost Boys in his work was based on these young children. He became the custodian of the children once the parents passed away.

Peter Pan was based on one of the Davies’ sons, Peter Llewellyn Davies. He despised being associated with this character.

Peter Davies was a successful publisher and it was claimed that his fame prompted him to lean towards alcohol.

He also suffered from emphysema. It is revealed that Peter Pan kills himself. The deliberations remain enigmatic.

Some critics correlate him with Davies’ suicide as he hurled himself under a subway.

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Appearances of Peter Pan

The first appearance of Peter Pan is found in Barrie’s novel The Little White Bird (1904), which was originally based on George Llewellyn Davies.

The Little White Bird is classified as adult fiction and arguments remain ambiguous on marking Peter Pan as a children’s classics.

According to Jacqueline Rose, Peter Pan represents the asexual innocence in “children’s literature”, nevertheless, the character originated from a novel that is regarded as adult fiction. The Little White Bird deals with subjects like sexuality and death candidly.

Envisioning Peter Pan for a play symbolized the contradiction of these foundations. However, many remember Peter Pan as “the boy who wouldn’t grow up” because the play was an instant hit.

Barrie’s inspiration came from a lot of places: his illusions, childhood trauma, marriage, and the relationships he forged. His dog prompted him to develop the character Nana The Dog in the story.

The entire novel is drawn from his experiences and connections.

What Influenced Peter Pan?

The most significant influence was manifested from Barrie’s childhood trauma.

Barrie had a 14-year-old brother who was deemed “a perfect child” before his parents’ eyes.

Unfortunately, when Barrie was six, he lost his brother due to a skating accident. The family did not take it well.

Barrie stated that she clung to her thought that he shall never grow up. This reveals how his mother never truly recovered from their loss. However, his mother’s notion was strangely therapeutic, which later spurred him to develop this story.

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The Peter Pan Book Review

The story opens with a description of the Darling family.

Mrs. Darling discerns that the children are drawn to a boy named Peter Pan. She enquires Wendy about him. Wendy shares that he seldom visits them when they are asleep.

One night, Mrs. Darling wakes up when she hears a sound and locates that it is him. Peter Pan leaves through the window when he notices an adult in the room. Nana traps his shadow.

Nights later, Mr. Darling and the children have an unfavorable argument and that leads him to tie Nana in the yard. This disappoints the children. However, since the Darlings leave for a function, the children are not supervised. Peter Pan and Tinker Bell fly into the nursery. They search for Peter’s shadow which Mrs. Darling hid in a drawer.

Tinker Bell finds the shadow and gives it to Peter Pan. Peter Pan could not get the shadow to stay on and he starts sobbing, which caught Wendy’s attention. Wendy helps him and sews the shadow.

He confronts Wendy that he has been listening to their slumber-time stories so he could narrate them to the lost boys. Additionally, he also asks Wendy to go with him to Neverland.

He convinces her that she could explore the horizons and also be a mother to the little children. Wendy initially hesitates but later agrees to go with him.

Peter guides the children to fly and they head to Neverland. They notice the island after flying for several days. The pirates residing on the island notice the group. They attempt to attack them but fail because the group parts ways.

Tinker Bell, envious of Peter’s bond with Wendy, utilizes the opportunity to abandon Wendy. The plan did not succeed. Peter reappears and Wendy agrees to nourish the boys.

While Peter takes them on ventures, Wendy serves meals and performs her other duties such as cleaning, folding clothes, and narrating bedtime stories.

One night, Wendy narrates a story of how three children traveled to Neverland and returned home many years later with their parents welcoming them with open arms.

Peter dislikes the story and admits that his mother did not wait for him to return. This troubles Wendy and she decides to take her brothers home immediately. She beckons the boys to go with her but Peter refuses.

After the fight, Peter goes to sleep while Wendy leaves with the rest. The pirates have been waiting in their underground house to kidnap them.

Captain Hook poisons Peter Pan’s medicine and the kids are taken to the pirate ship.

When Peter wakes up, Tinker Bell cautions him about the poison and he denies believing her.

Tinker Bell drinks the poison to prove herself and becomes weaker. However, Tinker Bell heals when she receives attention. Peter moves to find the children, he finds a way and gently sets into the ship. He hides and tricks Captain Hook and throws him in the water. 

The story ends with the Darling family looking forward to welcoming their children. They adopt all the boys except Peter Pan.

Peter returns to Neverland and promises to visit Wendy from time to time. Years pass and the children grow up. Wendy gets married and gives birth to Jane. She cannot travel to Neverland anymore because she is an adult now.

Peter stays eternally young and takes Jane instead. As Jane grows up, he repeats the cycle with Jane’s daughter as well.

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What is Peter Pan Book Theme?

The central theme of this book is the difference between two worlds: the normal world where adults function and the enchanting realm, particularly for children to be adventurous.

This distinction unveils the reality of the development of children.

When children grow up, they are expected to adhere to societal norms. But it is not the same for a child. Children have the freedom to fantasize.

In this novel, it is evident that both worlds collide. Some instances that support this point include Peter Pan’s entrance when Mrs. Darling is not in his sight, Nana behaving like a grown lady in the real world, and pirates caring about their physique while fairies repairing the kitchenware. 

Fans have a lot of queries and there are some frequently asked questions. A few of them are discussed below.

FAQS of Peter Pan Book

Is Peter Pan a bad person?

Many people correlate Peter Pan to a heartless figure. It could be connected to childhood. Children are usually adventurous and do not understand the concept of consequences.

They are inquisitive and would not mind leaving their homes behind to explore something new. He is also hated because he does not respect Tinker Bell and treats Wendy poorly.

Were Wendy and Peter dating?

Wendy kisses Peter when he offers to take them to Neverland. It is undeniable that Wendy had feelings for him.

Why does Peter Pan not grow up?

There is no definite answer to this question. Some fans suggest that Peter is unaware of the fact that he physically never grows up.
Peter is also unwilling to grow up and it is evident in several instances from the book, which also explains why Captain Hook is not fond of him.

Is Peter Pan Syndrome real?

Yes. Peter Pan Syndrome was coined by Dr. Dan Kiley. It is not a mental illness but a “social-psychological phenomenon”. This syndrome classifies the behaviours of men who are unwilling to grow up.

How does Tinker Bell die?

Barrie states that she dies due to old age, but also because Peter Pan does not provide any attention.

Conclusion

I would recommend this book even though the back-story is tragic. This story certainly contains elements that entice children and give them high hopes. This is a must-have classic for developing children.

References:

  1. https://www.enotes.com/
  2. https://www.tor.com

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