“Do you know Wendy? The day I was born, I left home, leaving my parents alone.” – Peter Pan
In this article, in line with the principles of contemporary children’s literature, we will examine Scottish author J.M. Barrie‘s novel Peter Pan. We will answer who J.M Barrie is, summarize the book and make an general evaluation.
Peter Pan Price Comparison
When I come across adventurous early works that children read in years when children’s literature was not mentioned, I definitely prefer reputable publishing houses in their fields. However, I had to quickly procure and read Peter Pan in order to complete the relevant projects. So I bought and read the first Peter Pan I found at the local bookstore. My comments on the publisher are not very positive, but I won’t add to the general evaluation. Now let’s take a look at the interesting life story of J. M. Barrie.
Who is J. M. Barrie?
Barrie is a writer who was born in Scotland in 1860. It is not correct to interpret the works only by looking at the author’s life. But it would not be wrong to say that J. M. Barrie’s life greatly influenced his writings.
When the author was six years old, his thirteen-year-old brother died. However, her mother cannot get over her brother’s death and begins to put J. M. Barrie in her thirteen-year-old brother’s place. It’s not a metaphorical statement here. He totally replaces his brother. In fact, J. M. Barrie most likely suffers from psychogenic dwarfism because of this, and his height does not exceed one hundred and forty centimeters in his lifetime. In other words, J. M. Barrie is a person who always remains thirteen years old, just like Peter Pan for his mother.
After graduating from Edinburgh University, he started working as a journalist in London. He earns his living both as a journalist and as a playwright. Peter Pan is actually one of the plays he wrote, but when it is liked, he writes his stories and his fortune changes at that point.
Summary of The Peter Pan
Peter Pan is a boy who lives in the land of dreams called Neverland. Peter Pan, taking the missing children with him on this island, engages in a war with Captain Hook. In this war, he sometimes gets the support of the Indians. They always manage to win, but they can’t get the mother they really longed for. For this reason, Peter Pan leaves Neverland with his close friend, the fairy named Tinker Bell, and is a guest in Wendy and her siblings’ room in real life. He brings Wendy and her siblings to the Neverland. Wendy, the only girl on the island, takes on the role of mother on this dream island and becomes a partner in the adventures of Peter Pan and the missing children.
The Topic Of Peter Pan
Peter Pan is actually a striking criticism brought to the adult world. Like Antoine de Saint Exupery’s novel The Little Prince, Peter Pan has a serious critique of the meaningless work of the adult world. This criticism is embodied in Peter Pan’s battles with an adult pirate, Captain Hook. However, since it is an older text, it is not as successful as The Little Prince. He is unable to process this criticism in a way appropriate to the child’s world.
The book can give children the habit of reading with its adventurous narrative. It can be considered as an interesting narrative. Considering the conditions of the period in which it was written, it can be said that it is innocent. However, when we look at it with today’s glasses, it contains elements that may be objectionable for children. Even though Peter Pan is a mischievous but fair boy, his arrogant attitude and the missing children’s unquestioning obedience to him, such as Tinker Bell’s self-sacrifice drinking the potion for Peter Pan, cannot be justified and incomprehensible.
Peter Pan Quotes
As we will explain in the general evaluation, the novel contains some parts that are not suitable for children when we evaluate it according to the principles of contemporary children’s literature. For example, in the passage below, the author goes beyond the meta-narrator, directly interrupts the flow of the narrative and makes comments that we can call sexist.
“Even though she needed children so much, he did not wake them up, he stood upright on a hill like flags waving to symbolize independence. I would never have thought that I would use the adjective with a heart like a barbecue for a girl.” – Page 92.
There are episodes that compel children to think of a savior. Bad passages that take the responsibility of individual thinking from the hands of children… J. M. Barrie’s writing and narration may not be bad, but it is not suitable for children either:
“Remember, we would have been miserable without him. We need bread as much as we need water,” he said.
So what! Without him, would hell break loose?
He is our captain, our guide. Without it, we would be like a ship without a route, without a map. We’re stuck where we are.” – Page 47.
When the book is considered as a work of children’s literature, it has controversial aspects. But as a narrator, J. M. Barrie’s writing is quite successful with his naive and aesthetic parts about striking moments such as death.
“Finally, the mermaids also retreated to their homes. And Peter Pan was left alone with his death. “Perhaps the last sound I hear in this mortal world will be the sound of a wave.” he thought. In the meantime, he tried to watch an obscure object lurching between the waves to pass the time. Maybe a rag, maybe a broken piece of a kite… I wonder when it will hit the beach?” – Page 104
General Evaluation of Peter Pan
Peter Pan is a book that will make children love reading because of its adventure-filled narrative. However, there are many aspects that we cannot criticize as of the time it was written, but that do not comply with the principles of today’s children’s literature when we look at it through contemporary glasses.
Racist rhetoric about Indians, although some argue that it teaches the social roles of the sexes, has parts that may seem too sexist for young readers when it comes to describing the work Wendy has to do and the attitudes of men towards Wendy.
It’s okay to have violence in children’s books. Everything that belongs to the reality of life can also be the subject of children’s literature. Because the purpose of children’s literature is to prepare the child for the reality of life early. But legitimizing violence and portraying it in a pornographic form is a serious problem. There is a section in the book:
“Or a force that holds the hands of these warriors who wiped out a pirate army… Someone who swung the bloody sword that Mulins had pulled out of his lifeless body was destined to tackle the job.” Page 163.
J.M. Barie does not tell the story from the child’s world. He occasionally interrupts the narrative as a writer, talking about childhood being left behind. As an adult, he’s not shy about giving advice or explaining how to get things done. However, what we are looking for in a quality children’s work is not advice, but only a life reality in which the sense of curiosity is driven. The narrative unfortunately does not meet this adequacy.
It does not imply that some of the extreme mischievousness they do to children may have dire consequences.
Despite everything, there are also positive messages about the concept of family, but… J. M. Barrie seems to be a good writer when you think independently of children’s literature. For this reason, it can be taught to children by leaning on its adventurous structure, on the condition of chatting with the child about the book after it is read with the parents.
It should be noted that Peter Pan has been transferred to the cinema many times by different directors, including Steven Spielberg, and to cartoons many times by different production companies, especially Disney. My favorite is the Fox Kids version, the version I watched as a kid. Nowadays, a contemporary interpretation is broadcast on Minika Go channel. Let me add that I do not find that production, which is between animation and cartoon, very aesthetic, but there is no problem with its messages.
The Books of J.M. Barrie
J.M. Barrie has many works, especially in the theater genre. You can see these works at this link of Wikipedia. Peter Pan is the author’s most influential work. However, when you want to read it today, there is confusion because some stories are added to some books later, the author puts both old and new stories in some story books, and they are illustrated with different names by different illustrators. As far as I’ve learned from what I’ve read, the story of Peter Pan has been compiled into a book in chronological order as follows.
- Little White Bird
- Peter Pan
- Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
- Peter and Wendy
Before writing the review, I learned that there is a syndrome called Peter Pan Syndrome, which is not included in the diagnostic guidelines but is referred to as the pop psychology syndrome. It is the state of not accepting that the person is an adult and not fulfilling the responsibilities of his age. You can see the details here.
After Madame Bovary, bovarism emerged. This means that novels that affect the masses are written with such good observation that they name things that cannot be named so well that it can even turn into a psychology term.
Review Peter Pan
Briefly My Opinion
In the years when the book was written, there was no such thing as children’s literature. The children were only reading adventure books. That’s why Peter Pan began to be called a children’s book. When we look at it from today’s point of view, the messages and discourse features of Peter Pan are not suitable for the world of children. It can only be taught to gain the habit of reading. It would be appropriate for them to talk about it with their parents, too. Or, contemporary interpretations and cartoon adaptations can be watched instead.