Peter Pan

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Peter Pan Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Hook’s ship, the Jolly Roger, emits a small green light as it floats. Smee is sewing, and the other pirates are loafing or playing dice. Hook paces thoughtfully along the ship, thinking of his recent triumph. He is satisfied, but he is not happy: he does not enjoy the company of his crew, who are “socially so inferior.” The narrator implies that Hook was formerly quite a famous and upstanding British citizen. He went to an elite school, and its lessons and mannerisms still affect him strongly, especially the idea of “good form.”
Pirates have historically been linked to anarchism, a social philosophy whose advocates oppose all forms of authority, including social hierarchies. Pirates are free elements who do not swear allegiance to any government. Pirates and anarchists even have a symbol in common – the black flag. In this context, Hook’s obsession with minute social distinctions is sadly comical and suggests that adults can't actually ever escape those social strings enveloping them.
Themes
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form  Theme Icon
Every day Hook asks himself whether his behavior has shown good form. He is famous, but is fame good form? “Most disquieting question of all, was it not bad form to think about good form?” He questions the course his life has taken, and worries that children do not like him – unlike Smee, who is adored by all children. Hook wonders sadly whether they love Smee for his good form, and droops helplessly onto the floor.
‘Good form’ is by definition any behavior that is perfectly consistent with current social conventions. Hook’s yearning for good form is closely related to Mr. Darling’s desire to impress his neighbors. Yet good form is also something mysterious, which rests on a lack of care about good form—it is unconscious, or unselfconscious, the way Peter is. And finally, Hook realizes that his unachievable quest for good form may not even be a quest for the right thing: good form might make a person likable, or impressive, but does it render a person loveable?
Themes
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form  Theme Icon
The other pirates become disorderly, and Hook recovers his steeliness and orders them angrily to drag the children up to the deck. Hook tells them they are going to walk the plank – all but two, since he needs two cabin boys. When he asks for volunteers, Tootles and the other boys all explain that their mothers would not want them to be pirates. Hook almost enlists John and Michael, but they refuse on grounds of loyalty to the British crown.
Hook is aware that a pirate must not be loyal to any government, and therefore insists that John and Michael must forswear the British empire. Yet he himself is painfully loyal to the British empire. In that, he is not unlike Peter Pan, who escaped ordinary childhood only to recreate it in the heart of his Neverland.
Themes
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
The pirates prepare to drown the boys. They carry Wendy up to deck as well. Wendy is disgusted by the ship’s filth, and Hook becomes self-conscious when he catches Wendy staring contemptuously at his dirty clothes. Hook tries to retaliate by demanding that Wendy say some last words to the boys, but Wendy carries it off very gracefully. “I feel that I have a message to you from your real mothers,” she says, “and it is this: ‘We hope our sons will die like English gentlemen.’” Then she is tied up.
Yet the ‘form’ in good form is an ancient word that refers to pure being, a quality that precedes all social niceties. It is the promise of ascending beyond ‘good form’ to simply ‘form’ that torments Hook. He fears that the neglected rules and rituals of his childhood are the gateways to full being—a being not so shadowed or encumbered by self-consciousness. Wendy, meanwhile, standing in for the lost boys' mothers, ties them to the social expectations of and allegiance to England that both Hook and Peter want to eliminate or escape.
Themes
Motherhood Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form  Theme Icon
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Just as Hook is about to proceed with the execution, he hears the ticking of the crocodile. His limbs crumple in terror. He crawls into a corner, and the other pirates prepare to submit to fate. But when the boys look around, they see that it is not the crocodile who is ticking – it is Peter Pan.
The pirates mistake Peter Pan for fate itself—the ticking clock. And he is like fate, a sort of wind that blows through scenes and alters them inexorably. In resembling fate, he ceases to resemble a person: fate is inhuman will.
Themes
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon