P.P. Chapters 7-9: I Think We Hit a Lull

5 May

First, sorry, Lauren, but I couldn’t wait any longer before continuing on with the next section of the book. 🙂

Second, these three chapters just seemed to kind of drag for me. Really, the only “meat” of the story was relayed in Chapter 8 (the incident at the mermaids’ lagoon), and the others were just bridges to get there and back again. There wasn’t much in terms of character development either. We know Peter is more interested in playing pranks/games than thinking before acting – case in point, mimicking Captain Hook and then revealing that it was Peter Pan (the sworn archenemy of Hook). I don’t know that I really liked the whole “every instance of unfairness is like the first instance” trait that Barrie created for Peter. There’s something to be said about someone being too gullible and wanting to give a person a second chance, but at some point s/he is going to have to learn his/her lesson.

If anything, the possibility of Peter and Wendy drowning on the rock after everyone else deserted them was one of the redeeming elements of this section. (Yes, I know it wouldn’t actually happen, it’s a children’s book, but the fact that Barrie would include such an episode made it intriguing.) However, I didn’t like how easily the predicament was solved. (Seriously, a kite and a bird’s nest? What is this.)

Here’s to hoping the next section of the book is a little more rewarding.


P.P. Chapters 4-6: On a Roll

20 Apr

Well then.

It would be too easy to just sit here and name all the difference between the book and the Disney adaptation – the book is way more dark. Instead, I’m going to go with the Reader Response perspective and discuss those elements which I liked the most/found the most interesting in Barrie’s story.

What strikes me the most is Peter’s characterization. He is more of a lost soul than any of the other kids; he has no clue of what to do. For example, when Wendy and the boys inquire how to reach Neverland, Peter replies with the familiar “second star to the right, then straight on ’til morning.” But we learn that it doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s the first phrase that pops into his head; the Darling children are completely at the mercy of Peter’s ineptitude. Later, while they’re flying, they fall asleep and begin to plummet back to the earth. Peter must be their savior, but Wendy admits to the reader that she was scared there would finally be a time when Peter became bored with the idea of saving whichever of them was falling and just let them die.

Peter has not grown out of the self-serving, immature frame of mind that most toddlers can be described as having. Again, we see that he only brought John and Michael along since that was the only way to convince Wendy to visit the Lost Boys and become their mother (see: the building of the house around Wendy). Within those same pages, we get the anecdote about Peter “rapping the boys on their knuckles” any time they stop playing make-believe well before Peter gives up the idea of it. It was also kind of scary (from the point of a responsible adult) to see how Peter dealt with Wendy and her injury. Playing make-believe doctor is not going to heal a serious wound. (Obviously the wound can’t be that serious if Wendy is able to move about and talk later on, but still…) This feels more like avoidance behavior than anything else. Peter is desperately trying to hold on to his childhood, even if his friends are put into physical peril because of it.

And really quickly, because I couldn’t resist…Smee is much more of a badass in the book than in the movie. I mean, I can see him as a viable threat rather than the bumbling comic relief.

Lauren, your opinions?

Peter Pan, Chapters 1-3: First Impressions

7 Apr

This week I began reading the original version of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. I agree that the most unexpected difference I found between the book and the modern image of the story (esp. the Disney movie) was the emphasis the book had on the family’s social/economic status. I too was surprised by the Darling’s discussion about whether or not they could keep Wendy.  Though I do feel they were talking more about giving her up for adoption/abandonment since, in the book, Wendy is two weeks old when they were still calculating finances.

I am surprised that this element is often left out in today’s versions since it seems to be a driving force in the progression of the story. I felt that the second chapter outlines the entire chain of events leading from the family’s social/economic status to the disappearance of the Darling children. If the Darling’s did not need so much financially then Mr. Darling might not have been so self-conscious about his job in the city or how the neighbors viewed him and his family. In turn, they would not have felt the need to go to the party that night, or he would not have played that trick on Nana the dog for his children’s respect. Then, he would not have sent her outside so she would have been there when Peter came that night, etc.  

And Nick, I definitely agree with your comment on Peter’s personality. From Peter’s actions, and especially how J.M. Barrie describes Peter’s impact on the Darling Family, Peter seems to be more of a Trickster character. The image of Peter I’m used to seeing in movies and popular culture is more of the eternal child. What I mean is, that his actions relate more to a child’s innocence and sense of adventure, but the book’s version is (as you put) more mischievous.

Another thing I thought was interesting was that the first time Neverland was mentioned, it was (at least in my opinion) described as a place that exists in children’s imaginations or just their imaginations themselves. I always believed Neverland was supposed to be a physical location that we just could not see because it required pixie dust to get there. Adding to this, (and this may just be a stretch) the Neverland we grew up knowing seems like it is a combination of Wendy, John, and Michael’s imaginations/versions of Neverland. The book describes where each lived in their own Neverland; John in an upside down ship (like Hook’s Pirate Ship), Michael in a wigwam (such as the Indians lived in), and Wendy in a house of leaves (similar to the tree-house where the Lost Boys live).

Overall, the book does seem darker than the Disney movie. I feel that it is similar to how the Grimm Fairy Tales were darker than our modern telling of the tales. The Grimm Fairy Tales reflected things that influenced people back in those days. They were meant to impart information to children on the morals of (and how to live in) the world as they knew it. It will be interesting to see how this “children’s book” reflects what the Victorian Era tries to convey to children of that time. Then it would be interesting to see how modern versions adapt it to reflect what our society now believes is important to impress on children of today. 

P.P. Chapters 1-3: Goodbye Childhood

31 Mar

As I began reading J.M. Barrie’s novel, I couldn’t help but compare it to the Disney film adaptation I saw (and loved) as a child. (I know there is a specific term within the literary analysis world, but for the life of me I can’t remember it at the moment.) It was surprising to see how much the Disney movie left out.

The biggest element I’m referring to – and I don’t know if you felt the same way, Lauren – was the mention of getting rid of Wendy (whether through abortion or adoption/abandonment I couldn’t decide) and even John and Michael due to the family’s poor financial situation (Barrie 5). Obviously, Disney could not have included mention of this in the movie. I feel as if the Darlings’ financial situation was a greater influence in the book than it was in the movie. If I remember correctly, the kids (but particularly Wendy) reaching an age of maturity was given more emphasis (which makes sense when they reach Neverland but ultimately decide to leave).

I feel I’m getting too far ahead in the story I think I know rather than discussing the little bit we read. Another element which I noted was the personalities of both Peter and Wendy. Both come across as more mischievous than in the movie. Peter has the full intention of talking up Neverland and the Lost Boys in order to convince Wendy to come and visit them; taking along John and Michael is a necessary evil so as to make her feel secure. Wendy, on the other hand, takes advantage of Peter’s naivete about relationships for her gain.

One more thing before I go: what’s the deal with Peter’s (and the Lost Boys) origin story? Did you find it weird that they all started off somewhere in London and then traveled to Neverland later on? Or was that just me? (My mind started going crazy with this strange notion that they’re all dead – hence the reason they can never grow up – but I know that’s not possible.)

What did you think of the first three chapters?

Reading Through the Decades

6 Mar

Hello and welcome to our (book) club!

When my friend, Lauren, was first coming up with the idea for a book club, she thought it would be great (and rather fun and easy, too) if we decided our book selections based on agreed themes. This would certainly help give our discussions some structure and focus.

So what will be the theme for our first list of books? “Reading Through the Decades: 1900 – 2000.” Our list is comprised of 10 books, each one representing the decade in which it was published. See below for an extended look at the chosen books. (Yes, some of these fall into the “popular canon” category, but both Lauren and I felt that they would be representative of their time. All of the selections are also books that neither of us have read yet.)

  • 1900 – 1909: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (1904)
  • 1910 – 1919: The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle (1912)
  • 1920 – 1929: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (1920)
  • 1930 – 1939: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
  • 1940 – 1949: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (1942)
  • 1950 – 1959: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1950)
  • 1960 – 1969: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  • 1970 – 1979: The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance (1979)
  • 1980 – 1989: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985)
  • 1990 – 1999: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (1996)

Let’s get ready to read!