Archive | April, 2013

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.