Peter Pan

Peter Pan Character Analysis

a magical, arrogant boy who will never grow up. Many parents look at their children and wish, along with Mrs. Darling: “Oh, why can’t you remain like this forever!” And many children look at their parents with anxious appraisal and wish for the same thing. Peter Pan is the wish come true. Like all abstractions, he is in equal parts wonderful and terrifying. His immortality and wildness carry him to the dazzling limits of experience, but they take him away from its center, a safe, warm, and secluded place like the nursery. Peter has no fears, so he feels no desire for safety, and he has no memory, so he doesn’t understand change or loss. And there is something else he does not have, though it is an emptiness that is more difficult to name. For convenience, J. M. Barrie calls it ‘heartlessness’, because without it there can’t be anything like love.

Peter Pan Quotes in Peter Pan

The Peter Pan quotes below are all either spoken by Peter Pan or refer to Peter Pan. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scholastic Inc edition of Peter Pan published in 2002.
Chapter 1 Quotes

She dreamt that the Neverland had come too near and that a strange boy had broken through from it. He did not alarm her, for she thought she had seen him before in the faces of many women who have no children.

Related Characters: Peter Pan, Mrs. Darling
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

'It was because I heard father and mother,' he explained in a low voice, 'talking about what I was to be when I became a man.' He was extraordinarily agitated now. 'I don't want ever to be a man,' he said with passion. 'I want always to be a little boy and to have fun. So I ran away to Kensington Gardens and lived a long long time among the fairies.'

Related Characters: Peter Pan (speaker)
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

Eventually Peter would dive through the air, and catch Michael just before he could strike the sea, and it was lovely the way he did it; but he always waited till the last moment, and you felt it was his cleverness that interested him and not the saving of human life.

Related Characters: Peter Pan, Michael
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

The difference between [Peter] and the other boys at such a time was that they knew it was make-believe, while to him make-believe and true were exactly the same thing.

Related Characters: Peter Pan, Tootles, Nibs, Slightly, Curly, The Twins
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

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'That doesn't matter,' said Peter, as if he were the only person present who knew all about it, though he was really the one who knew least. 'What we need is just a nice motherly person.'
'Oh dear!' Wendy said, 'you see I feel that is exactly what I am.'

Related Characters: Peter Pan (speaker), Wendy (speaker)
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

Not the pain of this but its unfairness was what dazed Peter. It made him quite helpless. He could only stare, horrified. Every child is affected thus the first time he is treated unfairly. All he thinks he has a right to when he comes to you to be yours is fairness. After you have been unfair to him he will love you again, but he will never afterwards be quite the same boy. No one ever gets over the first unfairness; no one except Peter. He often met it, but he always forgot it. I suppose that was the real difference between him and all the rest.

Related Characters: Peter Pan
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

'You are so queer,' he said, frankly puzzled, 'and Tiger Lily is just the same. There is something she wants to be to me, but she says it is not my mother.'

Related Characters: Peter Pan (speaker), Wendy, Princess Tiger Lily
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

Sometimes, though not often, he had dreams, and they were more painful than the dreams of other boys. For hours he could not be separated from these dreams, though he wailed piteously in them. They had to do, I think, with the riddle of his existence.

Related Characters: Peter Pan
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

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He regretted now that he had given the birds of the island such strange names that they are very wild and difficult of approach.

Related Characters: Peter Pan
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 15 Quotes

'Pan, who and what art thou?' he cried huskily.
'I'm youth, I'm joy,' Peter answered at a venture, 'I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg.'
This, of course, was nonsense; but it was proof to the unhappy Hook that Peter did not know in the least who or what he was, which is the very pinnacle of good form.

Related Characters: Peter Pan (speaker), Captain Jas. Hook (speaker)
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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He ceased to look at her, but even then she would not let go of him. He skipped about and made funny faces, but when he stopped it was just as if she were inside him, knocking.

Related Characters: Peter Pan, Mrs. Darling
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

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He had ecstasies innumerable that other children can never know; but he was looking through the window at the one joy from which he must be for ever barred.

Related Characters: Peter Pan
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Peter Pan Character Timeline in Peter Pan

The timeline below shows where the character Peter Pan 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
One day Mrs. Darling asks Wendy to explain Peter Pan, a person she has noticed in the children’s minds. Mrs. Darling vaguely remembers Peter... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...nursery through the window. A light flickering around him wakes Mrs. Darling, who looks at Peter with surprise. He looks just like her mysterious “kiss”, and still has all his baby... (full context)
Chapter 2: The Shadow
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...startled shout when she sees the boy, and Nana runs into the room and growls. Peter quickly jumps out the window, but Nana traps his shadow by closing the window on... (full context)
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
...anxious barking – she is afraid to leave the children unguarded, with a person like Peter Pan lurking around. (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...a nearby party. When they are safely out of the way, the stars signal to Peter to come indoors. (full context)
Chapter 3: Come Away, Come Away!
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
The light flickering around Peter Pan is a tiny fairy named Tinker Bell, who begins looking for Peter’s shadow as... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
Wendy wakes up and they introduce themselves. She is surprised by Peter’s short name and his explanation of directions to where he lives: “second to the right... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
Wendy takes offense at his ingratitude and hides in bed. Peter Pan then becomes apologetic and tells her “one girl is more use than twenty boys.”... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Peter tells Wendy that he ran away from his father and mother to live with the... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...angry and rude, but Wendy is enchanted nonetheless. “She is a quite a common fairy,” Peter says, explaining that Tink repairs kitchenware. Peter goes on to say that he lives in... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Peter tells her that he has been coming to the nursery to listen to stories, since... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Peter asks Wendy to come with him and tell stories to all the boys. He tempts... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Peter shows the children how to fly. He blows some fairy dust on them, tells them... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Flight
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...in the direction of Neverland. They don’t know where they are but they closely follow Peter, who steals food for them out of birds’ mouths. They fly easily, though when they... (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...dangerous, as it does even at home when it is time to go to sleep. Peter becomes brightly alert in preparation for some violent adventure. He tells the children about the... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Tinker Bell tells Peter that the pirates have seen them, and they’ve pulled out a big gun called the... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Island Come True
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
When Peter is away from Neverland, everything becomes quite peaceful and lazy, and nobody fights very much.... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
The lost boys, walking quietly in single file, are looking for Peter Pan. There are currently six boys on the island, but the number varies, because every... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...Then everything has come full circle, and the lost boys appear again. They talk about Peter, wonder about the ending of Cinderella, and try to remember their mothers – they can’t... (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
...and he tells Smee obliquely and sentimentally about his life. Hook wants badly to kill Peter, who cut off his arm and fed it to a crocodile. To this day, the... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...also notice the seven holes in the trees, and they hear the boys talking about Peter’s absence. Captain Hook decides to get them by leaving a very rich and delicious cake... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...wolves by bending over and looking at them through their legs, because that is what Peter would do in the situation, and the wolves retreat in confusion. (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...them, and they see Tinker Bell scolding and pinching it. Tink tells the boys that Peter wants them to shoot the bird, and Tootles obediently shoots Wendy with an arrow. She... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Little House
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
When Tootles takes responsibility for the death, Peter Pan almost stabs him with an arrow. But Wendy’s hand holds him back. She is... (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Home Under The Ground
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
The next day, Peter measures Michael, John, and Wendy and makes tree holes to fit their figures. The underground... (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
For a little while, Peter becomes very absorbed in a new game. It “consisted in pretending not to have adventures,”... (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
...gets hard and old. There is also the story in which a Never bird saves Peter Pan from drowning in the lagoon, or the story of Tink’s attempt to get rid... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Mermaids’ Lagoon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...a little like the colors you see if you close your eyes very tightly. Wendy, Peter, and the lost boys spend many warm days swimming there, and listening to the mermaids... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
...hour’s rest after lunch, and on this afternoon the boys are napping on Marooners’ Rock. Peter senses that pirates are nearby and wakes the others. Everyone dives underwater. Approaching is a... (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...nervously that the order must have come from a ghost. Hook addresses the ghost, and Peter responds in Hook’s own voice and manner. Peter asserts that he is Hook, and that... (full context)
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
The boys and the pirates engage in a short and bloody fight. Peter and Hook meet at the top of Marooners’ Rock. Peter is about to stab the... (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
Suddenly, they feel something small touch them: Michael’s kite. Peter ties it around Wendy’s waist and it carries her off to safety. Soon he is... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Never Bird
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Peter listens to the mermaids going to their homes and feels the water rising at his... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
The bird tries hard to tell Peter to swim to the nest, which she can’t bring any closer to his rock. But... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Happy Home
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Because Peter Pan saved Princess Tiger Lily, the boys are now friends with the tribe, who all... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...will come to be called the Night of Nights, the boys are eating dinner while Peter is out getting the time from the crocodile, whose clock regularly rings out the hour.... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Before the dance, though, Peter and Wendy have an odd conversation. They talk about the boys exactly as though they... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
...settles everyone into bed and begins to tell their favorite story. It is a story Peter hates, but he listens anyway. (full context)
Chapter 11: Wendy’s Story
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
...it allows them to do as they please in the safety of unconditional love. But Peter hates it. “You are wrong about a mother’s love,” he says to Wendy. He once... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...that she and her brothers must return home that very night. She is not sure Peter is right about mothers, but she is afraid nonetheless. Peter is very hurt, but he... (full context)
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
...that her parents will adopt them all. They joyfully accept the offer – all but Peter. Wendy can see that he is miserable, but he pretends to be cheerful, and says... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Children Are Carried Off
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
...to escape. Hook is not really interested in the indians, though; he has come for Peter Pan. He hates Peter not because of the loss of his arm, but because the... (full context)
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
...himself picks up the drum and starts playing. The boys yell happily, say goodbye to Peter, and begin climbing out. (full context)
Chapter 13: Do You Believe in Fairies?
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
...are out of sight, Hook slides down into the house through Slightly’s tree. He finds Peter sleeping peacefully. Peter sometimes has terrible long nightmares related somehow to “the riddle of his... (full context)
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
...attack, but he finds that he can’t undo the latch on Slightly’s door to reach Peter. Instead, he puts a very deadly dose of poison in Peter’s medicine, which is just... (full context)
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Soon, Peter is awakened by a tapping on his door. It is Tinker Bell, and she tells... (full context)
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...fainter. She will only be saved if many children show that they believe in fairies. Peter asks all the children “who are dreaming of Neverland” to clap their hands if they... (full context)
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Now Peter sets out to rescue the others. He has to walk, because flying close enough to... (full context)
Chapter 14: The Pirate Ship
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...around, they see that it is not the crocodile who is ticking – it is Peter Pan. (full context)
Chapter 15: ‘Hook Or Me This Time’
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When Peter had been tiptoeing through the forest, he saw the infamous crocodile creep by. When he... (full context)
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By now, Peter has climbed up onto the boat. A pirate passes by him, and Peter kills him... (full context)
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As the children enter the cabin, Peter unlocks their chains. Peter and the children then emerge from the cabin quietly. Peter sneaks... (full context)
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He approaches the person in the shawl, who reveals himself to be Peter. In that moment of shock, says the narrator, Hook’s “fierce heart broke.” Nevertheless, the boys... (full context)
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The time has finally come for Peter to battle Hook. Peter is a wonderful swordsman, but Hook also fights excellently. For a... (full context)
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Suddenly Hook asks Peter who he is. “I’m youth, I’m joy,” Peter answers, and Hook fears that this nonsense... (full context)
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At last, Hook tires of fighting and jumps up onto the side of the ship. Peter is flying at him, and Hook gestures for him to kick instead of striking; Peter... (full context)
Chapter 16: The Return Home
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The next morning, all the boys are dressed as pirates, with Peter as their captain. Peter talks and acts just like Hook, and some of the boys... (full context)
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...asleep, but she continues to play in a little room adjoining the nursery. Just then, Peter and Tinker Bell fly in. Peter has come to shut the nursery window, so that... (full context)
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...and hug her does she finally celebrate their homecoming. It is a very happy scene. Peter watches sadly from the windowsill: it is “the one joy from which he must be... (full context)
Chapter 17: When Wendy Grew Up
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...Mrs. Darling sees them, she resolves to adopt them right away. She wants to adopt Peter too, but he refuses. He will live in Neverland with Tinker Bell. He asks Wendy... (full context)
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Peter returns for Wendy the following year, though she is embarrassed that her old Neverland dress... (full context)
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Peter does not come the next year, and Michael even wonders whether he really exists. He... (full context)
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...innocent, and heartless” children can fly. Once again, she tells Jane the old story about Peter Pan. When she tries to imitate Peter’s crowing, Jane herself crows just like Peter: she... (full context)
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One night, when Wendy is knitting and Jane is asleep, Peter Pan flies in through the window. He hasn’t changed at all, and he still has... (full context)
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When Peter understands that Wendy has grown up, he begins to cry, and his sobs wake Jane.... (full context)
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Wendy becomes old, and now it is Margaret, Jane’s daughter, that does Peter’s spring cleaning. It will go on forever that way, “so long as children are gay... (full context)