A comment on The Candy Pan by Anon* became a conversation through comments. Through the course of it, a question arose which I think would make for a good post. So here it is:
The Jolly Roger, as we all know, floats along the shore of the Neverland. The pirates come ashore and have adventures on the island along with everyone else. And surely they have their own interactions on board the ship. But do these ever take place away from the surf of the isle? Taking it a step further, CAN the pirates leave the Neverland? Or are they bound to it by the magics and imaginations that hold the island in place?
Interestingly, P.J. Hogan's inventive tying of the seasons/weather of the Neverland to Pan's mood has the Jolly Roger stuck in frozen waters when Pan is gone.
At one time, many moons ago, I had thought that the pirates remained in the area because they were trapped. Doomed to forever be a part of the adventurous land. But I soon gave way to thinking it would be more in tune with the themes of Barrie if it were not the Neverland itself holding them in place, but the captain of the ship, none other than Hook. It’s ever so more delicious and telling if he cannot leave by his own volition, with his Pan obsession keeping them at the isle. How much worse (and dramatic) for the buccaneers if their own captain won’t let them sail away, forcing them to chase a flying brat.
Then some years later, when I RE-re-entered the Neverland, I reacquainted with a bit that pulled back some of the curtain on this question. In the screenplay, Barrie describes a scene of the pirates sailing all around the globe (as in showing a globe with a little ship moving around it.) We see an actual globe. Wherever the ship goes the crocodile is swimming after it. If Hook takes to land it still follows. Thus they go over the globe... Ah-ha! So in Barrie’s mind it IS possible for them to leave, there is no magical property that keeps them at bay.
Thus, my second idea had been much more correct, with an addendum. It’s not just Hook’s fixation on putting an end to the reign of Pan but the fact that he cannot find peace anywhere else on account of the great reptilian beast with a fixation on him.
All right, then, the only question remains... do the pirates ever leave? They can, but DO they? In the comment conversation, Anon stated not recalling that they do. (I, you see, had originally thought the matter had been if they are bound or not.) At one time I would have said no, they do not leave. As in Hook won’t let them. But then I came to read Hook & Jill, wherein Andrea Jones establishes they are in fact away from the island some times, if for no other reason (I apologize that I don’t recall all her details either from her novel or what she said in person) than to restock every so often. It also makes for a varied playtime (so to speak) for the children on the isle. “Look! The pirates have returned! Let’s go say hello!” But when they do leave, the buccaneers always come back to the Neverland. (Crocodile chases anyway and Hook wants Pan.)
And so I had revised my original conception both through logic and facts both within Barrie’s pages and outside of them. But the truth is I let it go without too much further thought. For when it came to the pirates I’m dealing with on NeverWorld, whether or not they leave is a moot point. They’ve a whole planet fo islands to traverse. (Though I should mention that they are unable to leave the NeverWorld itself... that is until they discover how. But it’s not really an issue for them as per that 'whole world is there' anyway.) Thus, the exact comings and goings of Barrie’s pirates in the Neverland fell by the wayside for me. I didn’t specifically need to worry about it.
And then came the re-tackling of my interquel Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between. Suddenly I found myself very concerned with the very subject. Would the pirates already be there when Pan first comes to the magic isle? Do they come and go? So I had some figurin’ to do... but the answer had to be in accordance with the text and the logic. Obviously, since I finished the book, I did hammer it out. And it wound up creating (or allowing for) a third reason that the pirates ‘remain’ in the Neverland. I cannot give it away, since it’s part of the discoveries of that novel. Actually, there are two reasons that arose. I can say, though, that I’d been happy to use the “Look! The pirates have returned! Let’s go say hello!” concept much to my delight and, I hope, to a nice effect.
So there you have it. Can the pirates leave the shores of the Neverland? Yes, yes they can. DO they? That’s open for debate, I suppose. We know by Barrie that they had left at least once prior to the events of Peter and Wendy. And there’s no mention of them leaving in the book or stage play. But then, why would there be? We need them right were they are for the duration of the tale. But that's not to say they DON'T otherwise. I’ve discerned that they do make excursions away... but Hook’s unquenchable desire for revenge as well as another factor or two (in the pages of the interquel) cannot keep them from coming back and spending most of their time on the wild island.
* Barrie enthusiast and my faithful reader and #1 fan
I am a fiction writer. Mostly I compose in the Urban Fantasy genre. When asked, I usually liken it to "The Twilight Zone" - extraordinary events emerging in everyday life. I graduated with Honors in Creative Writing from Knox College in 1993. Obviously I also scribble cartoonish drawings.
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