Peter Pan


J.M. Barrie

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Themes and Colors
Children and Heartlessness Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Peter Pan, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Children and Heartlessness

When Jane asks Wendy why she can longer fly, Wendy explains that only children can fly – “only the gay and innocent and heartless.” Peter and Wendy is a love song to children, but it is also a sad reproof, and a bitter clarification about what childhood and children are really like. Boring fairy tales and fatuous mothers like to pretend that children are little angels, but really children are selfish, conceited, and callous. These…

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Peter Pan is the novel’s hero, a boy so charming and brave that even his enemies find it difficult not to love him. Yet it is Mrs. Darling whom the narrator loves best. And it seems as though everyone but Mrs. Darling is fixated on mothers: Wendy, who wants to become one, Peter, who wants not to need one, the lost boys, who want simply to know one, and even the pirates, who admit…

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The Fantastic and the Commonplace

An aerial view of the novel would show two distinct worlds: the ordinary, rule-bound adult world and the wild, magical child world, separated by several days’ flying. An aerial view of a person’s life might show a similar partitioning. But a closer look at the novel shows a different geography, and a different economy of magic. The adult and child worlds, the ordinary and the magical, are always in close contact. Sometimes they even exchange…

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Fairness and Good Form

Fairness and good form are two names for Peter’s elusive quality of moral excellence, an excellence limited to various sorts of games. The narrator tends to prefer ‘fairness,’ and Hook, in his obsession with the British variant of aristocratic formality, names it ‘good form’. These two terms bookend the whole spectrum of Peter’s excellence: his insistence on “fighting fair,” on maintaining equality between opponents, on the one hand, and his blissful unselfconsciousness on…

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