The Meaning of Peter Pan – James Matthew Barry

The Peter Pan stories by J. M. Barry are considered one of the most famous and popular series of literary works for children of all time. Books about a boy who never grows up have been filmed many times, and their hero has become one of the most recognizable literary characters, but the famous work of James Barry is not at all fraught with childish meanings.

The meaning of the title of the book “Peter Pan”

The title refers the reader to the main character of the work, a charming boy who enjoys his childhood adventures and fun so much that he does not want to become an adult. All events and the plot of a series of popular stories are tied around the figure of a resilient Peter and his antics, but few know that this hero had real-life prototypes.

J. Barry became the guardian of the five sons of his deceased friends, and it was the observations of these boys, as well as descriptions of their adventures, that formed the basis of his literary work. The writer created a certain collective image in which he combined the features of his wards, giving him the name of one of the brothers, but each of the orphans found its embodiment in Peter Pan.

The Meaning of Peter Pan

Peter lives on a certain magical island of Neverland, which is inhabited by various magical creatures, categorically rejecting parental care and the opportunity to grow up – this is what the entire plot of the series is based on. In the generally accepted interpretation, this island is considered a symbol of a happy childhood and a vivid children’s imagination. Growing up, a person loses the ability to feel the wonders of the world the way children do, so he can no longer return to the world of magic and fairies – this is one of the meanings of the plot of the work, which is its main idea.

But why did J. Barry create his hero as a boy who stays in the country of childhood forever? The reason lies in the personal life of the author. The fact is that the fate of three of the five matured orphans who became the prototypes of the image of Peter Pan was very tragic, so the author, as if on purpose, protects his character from the horrors and disappointments of adult life, as well as from its inevitable ending – death. While his little friends grow up and gradually go behind the curtain, Peter remains forever young and forever happy on his magical island. Thus, he is protected from the shocks and losses that come to all adults, voluntarily avoiding aging and inevitable extinction. The magical world of Peter Pan is a world of imagination and fantasy in which you can hide from the unpleasant realities of real life.

More gloomy, but no less interesting is the interpretation of the meaning of the work, in which Peter’s eternal youth is a beautiful metaphor for the fact that the boy is actually dead, and his happy country Neverland is the world of the other world. The reason for such an understanding of the series of stories is the well-known fact of the death of his brother J. Barry, who passed away at the age of 13, remaining young forever, which had a strong influence on the future writer. Several remarkable points speak in favor of this version of the interpretation of the meaning of the work. According to the plot of the book, the main character lost his mom and dad, flying out the window, and when he returned, he saw another kid in the house, who took the place of the departed Peter. Even the famous gang of resilient boys that Peter commands on his island consists of children who got lost and could not find their way back to their parents, which suggests that all these guys have passed away.

The meaning of the finale of the work “Peter Pan”

For James Barry, Peter Pan’s island is a world of eternal youth and eternal life in the naive but happy ignorance of childhood. That is why the secondary characters of the work lose the ability to live in blooming Neverland, because they grow up and can no longer see the world through the eyes of a child. All Peter’s friends decide to return from the world of illusions to the gray reality, and Wendy, who agreed to be their mother, grows up and even begins to have romantic feelings for the main character, but he remains a child and cannot understand her.

Peter’s friends grow up and leave Neverland – this is how the work describes the growing up of each person, but the fact that a former child can no longer get to a happy island does not mean at all that it is closed to others. While new boys and girls are being born in the world, the resilient Peter will carry them along to the exciting land of childhood.

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