Peter Pan

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The Kiss Symbol Icon
When first introducing Peter Pan, the narrator tells us before anything else that Peter is “very like Mrs. Darling’s kiss.” He then tells us, as if to clarify, that Peter is beautiful, wild, and hateful toward adults. The “kiss” at the corner of Mrs. Darling’s mouth is a dimple, a smile, a shadow, or perhaps something not visible at all, a charm and an inaccessible depth. Like Peter, the kiss is youth itself: the idea of youth detached from any of the particulars of youth, a visceral sense of childhood as distinct from any actual child. On Mrs. Darling, the kiss is a remnant of total freedom, a small part of her that is safe from the unmagical aspects of life, and inaccessible to unmagical beings (including Mr. Darling, and, sadly, Wendy). Only something of its own kind can apprehend the “kiss” – only Peter himself. But what happens then? Whether the kiss disappears forever once apprehended, like a thought that vanishes when pursued, is left mysterious.

The Kiss Quotes in Peter Pan

The Peter Pan quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Kiss. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scholastic Inc edition of Peter Pan published in 2002.
Chapter 1 Quotes

He got all of her, except the innermost box and the kiss. He never knew about the box, and in time he gave up trying for the kiss.

Related Characters: Mrs. Darling , Mr. Darling
Related Symbols: The Kiss
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we get a sense of J.M. Barrie's whimsy and inventiveness. We're told that Mrs. Darling (the mother of the book's main characters) has a "kiss" on her face. This kiss isn't exactly like the word readers are familiar with--instead, a "kiss" is a kind of dimple symbolizing childlike wonder and freedom. There's no way to explain a kiss--if there were, then anybody could have one, including boring adults like Mr. Darling (who tries, but cannot access, his wife's "kiss"). Instead, the kiss is a symbol of youth and its fleetingness, of unadulterated freedom.

As the passage makes clear, Mrs. Darling is still in touch with her childlike side. Some children feel closer with their mothers than with their fathers--they feel that their mothers understand their needs and desires better. By portraying Mrs. Darling as a close ally to her children, Barrie shows that he's a keen observer of human nature and family dynamics.

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Chapter 16 Quotes

If she was too fond of her rubbishy children she couldn't help it. Look at her in her chair, where she has fallen asleep. The corner of her mouth, where one looks first, is almost withered up. Her hand moves restlessly on her breast as if she had a pain there. Some like Peter best and some like Wendy best, but I like her best.

Related Characters: Peter Pan , Wendy , Mrs. Darling
Related Symbols: The Kiss
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Barrie describes Mrs. Darling, a woman who feels an unqualified, complete love for her children, no matter who they are or what they do. Barrie's description is Mrs. Darling is poignant because it emphasizes her tenuous connection to the world of children: her "kiss" (the dimple on her mouth) is almost gone--i.e., her connection to the gentle world of youth is dangling by a thread. Furthermore, the passage emphasizes Mrs. Darling's mortality--note the descrption of the "pain in her breast" (some have suggested that Barrie based Mrs. Darling on a beloved friend who was dying of tuberculosis).

The passage is important because, in claiming that he likes Mrs. Darlin best, Barrie is ultimately throwing his sympathies to the world of kind, empathetic adults, not the world of children. Barrie loves children, and understands them deeply. And yet in the end, he believes that children should not resist growing up to be adults--kind, fun, and gentle adults, with responsibility to other people (above all, to their own children).

Chapter 17 Quotes

He took Mrs. Darling's kiss with him. The kiss that had been for no one else Peter took quite easily. Funny. But she seemed satisfied.

Related Characters: Peter Pan , Mrs. Darling
Related Symbols: The Kiss
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Peter leaves Wendy and the Darlings for a year: he's flying back to Neverland alone. But Peter takes one memento of his time with the Darlings: the "kiss" hidden in Mrs. Darling's face.

The meaning of Mrs. Darling's "kiss" is so ambiguous that it's difficult to tell exactly what Barrie is trying to say in this passage. Peter has been craving a mother-figure in his life, though he's always denied it. Now, Peter is flying back to Neverland with a tiny sign that he does have a mother--Mrs. Darling. Mrs. Darling may not be his literal mother, but she gives him love and affection, a reminder that Peter is still a little boy, and needs a mother. Peter continues to live in Neverland, but Barrie suggests that he's finally gotten some of the parental love he's always been denied--and in the process, learned to respect the world of adults (or at least be a little confused in his dislike of it).

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The Kiss Symbol Timeline in Peter Pan

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Kiss appears in Peter Pan. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Peter Breaks Through
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
...her. The mystery seems to reside especially in one corner of her mouth, where a “kiss” – a sort of dimple –seems to hide itself even from loved ones, including Mr.... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
...wakes Mrs. Darling, who looks at Peter with surprise. He looks just like her mysterious “kiss”, and still has all his baby teeth. (full context)
Chapter 3: Come Away, Come Away!
Motherhood Theme Icon
...is very flattered and emerges from under her blanket. She offers to give him a kiss. When Peter does not understand what she means, she gives him a thimble instead, and... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
...to take care of them. Wendy is so pleased that she gives him a real kiss, which she calls a thimble, and Peter gives her one in return. Tinker Bell pulls... (full context)
Chapter 16: The Return Home
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
Mrs. Darling misses the children very much and always seems sad. The mysterious kiss in the corner of her mouth “is almost withered up.” The narrator meant to scold... (full context)
Chapter 17: When Wendy Grew Up
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace  Theme Icon
...can help him with his spring cleaning. Before he flies away he takes Mrs. Darling’s kiss, “the kiss that had been for no one else.” (full context)