Monday, February 7, 2011

Is Peter Pan Gun-Shy?

I believe in subsequent books of the NeverWorld, I'm going to put something you might not expect in the hand of Peter Pan.  A gun.

Before you balk and scoff (if you haven't already) consider this line from Peter and Wendy.

“Ah, old lady,” said Peter, hanging up his gun.
Ah, see, he does have a gun!
I can easily see why it's not within the scope of people's general perception of Peter Pan.  When have we ever seen him fighting with something other than a dagger or a sword?  Guns at all in the story only come with the pirates, or so it seems.  And that line can often slip by one's notice.  I've always wondered, though, why Hook doesn't just shoot Pan down?  An answer comes to mind quickly - Peter is too fast, clever and alert and ever so ready to dart out of the way.  At least that's what I believe.  And P.J. Hogan, at least, thinks so as well (though Peter actually escapes the shot with a warning from Wendy.)
However, the fact remains that guns are very real in the Neverland.  And since there's precedent for it as per Sir J.M. Barrie himself, I'd like to push the boundary of our conception of the world of the flying boy.  As someone who ventures forth into that world, I'm curious how such a heavy burden would be handled by Pan.  One has to wonder why he hasn't already used one famously.  Is there a reason?  I cannot say for sure what Barrie's might have been, but I have two educated guessses.
For the first (but not foremost) answer, I turn to my own work, Peter Pan's NeverWorld, since I presented my story-wise theory within its pages:
[Michael Pan] held the ax like a rifle, an instrument of which he never felt very fond.  Guns and rifles always seemed like cheating to him. He longed for a more adventurous clash with the enemy. Perhaps some things do run in the family.
Naturally I hope you agree with the thought.  As for the real world (meaning our own) application, I believe Barrie's particular aversion to real world war should be examined.  World War I claimed his beloved George.  Okay, to be honest, he would have written the play and novel long before George's gunshot to the head at the age of 21.  Consider, though, this line from the novel form of Peter Pan:

When you play at it by day with the chairs and table-cloth, it is not in the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to sleep it becomes very real. That is why there are night-lights.

Obviously Barrie never underestimated the severity of the dangers of Pan's island. And by extension, the world.  Maybe he could not cope with the horror of the personal cannon.  Perhaps that's one reason Captain Hook does not fall to sword or gunfire. Other reasons exist, for sure, but I venture it's a valid factor.

When it came time for Peter Pan's NeverWorld, part of the idea behind the project had been to explore how Peter Pan and the Neverland would be affected by the events of the world since the days of the original story. Knowing the emotional impact war had on Barrie, it definitely needed a major role in the new tale.

And now, having been prompted by a comment somewhere on the internet about Peter Pan not having a gun, I decided perhaps it's time we see it happen.

I'm not going to tackle this any time soon. I have plenty endeavors to keep me busy before then... including returning to NeverWorld to finish the second book. Quite honestly, I can most definitely see guns fitting perfectly into the storyline of book three. A grand match for it, indeed. Judging by the tingles [for lack of a better term] I'm getting inspiration-wise, I think it's a safe bet that book three will put a pistol in the hand of Pan.  Maybe by then I'll have figured out the best way to do it.

Until then, I'll be thinking of Peter with the Lagollon.


Anon said...

I knew of this! :D :D :D

However, I assumed that the gun was used for hunting, rather than for fighting. I think that may be part of the reason no one remembers it, because we don't see Peter HUNT anything. When we do see him fighting it's not with a gun.

Peter Von Brown said...

Good point as well, Anon. (As usual. ;] ) That certainly qualifies as valid, too.

If you don't mind, I just might incorporate your notion into the story. And since you know a smidge about Book 3 - I bet you can guess who starts the gunfire. Don't spoil it for others, though. ;)

I had also been reminded of the scene at the end of Peter Pan's NeverWorld - but then, that's not exactly the same.

Anon said...

Thanks. ^_^

Not at all! :D Go right ahead! (I won't. ;) )


Andrea Jones said...

Peter's gun use might be limited by his code of honor -- Bad Form, you know, and a need to give the opponent a fighting chance. And Hook, being the flip side of Peter AND a public school man, is also bound by form. Of course he violates it when necessary, as when he responds to Peter's sense of fair play with an attack (on Marooners' Rock). But being an adventure boy, Peter himself cannot be limited in his choice of weapons!

But think of it... aiming a pistol and crying, "Have at thee?" Bad Form.

Peter Von Brown said...

Well thought as well, Andrea!

So the challenge for me, then, is presenting what prompts Peter to the Bad Form. And the answer is very simple and true to HIS form, actually. :)