The boys all gather around Wendy, and they realize she is not really a bird. Tootles is very sad to have killed a lady. Suddenly they hear crowing, which is Peter’s special noise. Peter Pan himself lands nearby. He is surprised to see the boys so quiet and sad, and he tells them he has brought them a mother. Tootles solemnly leads Peter to Wendy’s body.
Peter often says that he does not much like mothers, but he goes to some lengths to find a mother for the lost boys. He thinks the boys do need a mother, since they are only ordinary children. Peter believes that not wanting a mother sets him apart from the others.
When Tootles takes responsibility for the death, Peter Pan almost stabs him with an arrow. But Wendy’s hand holds him back. She is alive: Peter’s button, which she wears as a necklace, stopped the arrow from hurting her too badly. When Peter learns that the accident was Tink’s doing, he tells her that he never wants to see her again; but right away he takes pity on her and reduces the length of her exile to a week.
Peter’s love, or lack of love, orchestrates every aspect of this story. Tink’s jealous desire for Peter’s affection makes her plot Wendy’s death, and Peter’s button, a “kiss,” saves Wendy’s life. Peter is one of the magical beings of Neverland, but he is also its main architect. He is the imaginer, and the imagined.
The boys decide to build a house around the very spot where Wendy lies, so as not to disturb her. They bring her nice things from their underground home and build a cabin of branches and leaves. A very sleepy John and Michael fly in, and they get to work too. Peter asks Slightly to get a doctor, and Slightly reappears in a moment wearing a doctor-like hat and pretends to cure Wendy. Peter speaks to him just as he would to a doctor, because to him there is no difference between reality and make-believe.
Peter does not see a difference between reality and make-believe because, as one of the imagined creatures, he himself is make-believe. And as the island’s main imaginer, Peter’s powers of make-believe are greater than those of the other boys, who, after all, do feel a little hungry after a pretend dinner. They are not quite as imaginary as Peter: they do grow up.
The boys quickly finish Wendy’s house, and they make it just as she asks them to: it has red walls, a green roof, roses, and windows. Then they politely knock on the door. Wendy opens it, and they all introduce themselves. They beg her to be their mother, since they very much need “a nice motherly person.” Wendy says she is just that, and happily agrees. She tucks them in and reads them a bedtime story, and they happily fall asleep.
Why do the boys need a mother, or a motherly person? Of course, most of the boys have very vague memories of their mothers, and the memories probably make them feel lonely. But we might also say that they remember the games and rituals of motherhood, and they long for them as for a toy that other children have.