Friday, July 22, 2011

Opposite Orphans

Quite often I see that people have a tendency to think of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys as orphans.  I guess I can understand that notion, but only if one's knowledge of the story comes from not having read the book.

Peter Pan, esepcially, is not an orphan, folks.

In fact, thinking that he is undermines the very heart of the tale.  It pulls the punch of the gut-wrenching tragedy that is the events of the story.  It's not that Pan doesn't have a mother & father and thus flew away to the Neverland.  Quite the contrary, he sort of "oprhaned" his parents!  He's the one who went away suddenly and without warning, leaving them to pine for their lost boy.

So what about the Lost Boys?  It's the same with them.  They "abandoned" their parents, not the other way around.  I suppose it can be argued that the heart-strings aren't pulled as much as with Peter Pan, since Pan made a conscious choice to leave his home.  The Lost Boys, in a sense, are just that:  boys who are lost.  As Barrie puts it they:  fall out of their perambulators when the nurse is looking the other way. If they are not claimed in seven days they are sent far away to the Neverland to defray expenses.  So you see, it may or may not be the case that the boys of the Neverland (or NeverWorld, for that matter!) meant to be separated from their original family.  Barrie's boys tend to talk about their mothers and long for a "life" on the mainland (as evidenced by their interest in Wendy's stories of the mundane) so it's more likely that they didn't intend to end up as Lost.

Either way, it's another misconception of the story of Peter Pan.  Orphaning implies a sentimental outpouring for his loss.  Instead we are to be horrified by the loss Pan created in the other direction.  And for those who've read Peter Pan's NeverWorld, we know who else felt hurt by his decision to leave, now, don't we?

Why is it people tend to "soften" the blow of the tragic and disturbing elements in the tale of Peter Pan?

(A link to more misconceptions is in the sidebar)

1 comment:

Anon said...

People bowdlerize fairy tales all the time. It took watching "Into the Woods" for me to realize that Cinderella is actually a VIOLENT fairy tale (with respect to the stepsisters), and that the fairy godmother, the spell wearing off at midnight, the pumpkin coach and mice into horses, etc. DON'T EXIST.