Author Topic: Can Peter Pan die?  (Read 2856 times)

nerea

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Can Peter Pan die?
« on: September 14, 2015, 08:10:25 PM »
Hello,

Lately I've been studying the role death has in the play/book of Peter Pan, and I have the following question:

- Can Peter Pan die?

I've found in many books that he might be a dead or unborn child, but when he says "To die will be an awfully big adventure", it looks as if he had the possibility of dying (the same thing when he fights against Hook). Does his eternal youth imply immortality?

Any help on the subject is highly appreciated. Thanks!

Carmen

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Re: Can Peter Pan die?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2015, 07:22:51 PM »
Interesting subject! However, I don't remember reading anywhere that he may be a dead or unborn child, or even hint at that. In the novel, it is said that "when children died he went part of the way with them, so that they should not be frightened" but that's the only reference to dead children I could think of.

Peter Pan was never created as an immortal character, but a child who will not grow up and who wants to remain a boy forever, which is quite different. Eternal youth is not the same as eternal life. He is prepared for death, as we see in the scene on Marooners' Rock and during the fight with Hook, and death does not scare him.

In the play, Barrie refers to the "riddle of his being", which I take to mean his refusal to grow up and accept adulthood (and fear of it). Indeed, "if he could get the hang of the thing, his cry might become 'To live would be an awfully big adventure!'."

In other words, I do believe Peter Pan can die... These are just my own thoughts on the subject, but others may have other ideas!

Ketrel

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Re: Can Peter Pan die?
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2015, 10:53:10 PM »
Personal view - the lost boys represent dead children.   Neverland is a grieving parent's memory of a child that never ages.  I cannot explain all of the symbolism in the narrative but Peter Pan himself is close to the perverse mental tricks that happen in bereavement. 

Sylvia8

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Re: Can Peter Pan die?
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2020, 12:47:13 PM »
He is a grieving parent's memory of a child which never ages in real life but in the play, I don't know because the dead bodies of Phoebe Phelps and I always forget his name: Walter Steven Matthews? are buried in the Kensington Gardens so the fairies don't take dead babies who fell of their pram to Neverland. But it's arguable.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2020, 01:06:19 PM by Sylvia8 »

Brutus

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Re: Can Peter Pan die?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2020, 11:29:28 AM »
Death and growing up (or not) are recurrent themes in Barrie's works and have been linked to the death of his brother David who died young - and never grew up in his mother's and siblings' mind. So the grieving memory idea is quite believable.

The story of Phoebe Phelps and Walter Stephen Matthews' "tombstones" features in The Little White Bird (and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens) but not in the play. In fact, fairies will "certainly mischief" the babies that fall out of their prams, but if the fairies don't get them, they "may perish of cold and dark before Peter Pan comes round". When Peter is too late to rescue them, he buries them, hence the little tombstones.

The stones of course are just Barrie imaginatively interpreting (with his usual whimsy and dark humour) the boundary stones in the Gardens marking  the boundary between the Parish of Paddington and Westminster St Margaret.