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.
Fairness and Good Form Theme Icon

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 the other: “Peter did not know in the least who or what he was, which is the very pinnacle of good form.” The two qualities fully come together in Peter’s last fight with Hook, where he maintains both perfect fairness (when Hook drops his sword, Peter graciously hands it him) and a sort of gallant nonchalance. Peter is arrogant at times, but during public contests or games he is overcome by a blind devotion to the principle of fairness, accompanied by a flash of indifference to himself. It ceases to matter how “wonderful” and exceptional he may be; he is simply a contestant acting in accordance with a certain idea of justice. His self-regard is replaced by respect for a social organizing principle—the rules of the game and of fairness.

It seems absurd for Hook to suspect Peter of ‘good form’ – compliance with social conventions – because Peter seems wild and unsocialized, like Mowgli from the Jungle Book. He runs away because he “wants always to have fun” – to do just what he feels like. He runs away to escape integrating into a society that would frequently force him to act against his will and his pleasure. How, then, does the prince of Neverland come to be so devoted to the notion of justice, a trait and consequence of civilization? Hook admires Peter because his fairness is not deliberate, but intuitive, internal and inevitable - “the very pinnacle of good form.” Peter takes himself out of civilization only to create one inside himself. To run away from one form of adulthood is to run face-first into another.

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Fairness and Good Form ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Fairness and Good Form appears in each chapter of Peter Pan. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Fairness and Good Form Quotes in Peter Pan

Below you will find the important quotes in Peter Pan related to the theme of Fairness and Good Form.
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:
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:
Chapter 14 Quotes

Most disquieting reflection of all, was it not bad form to think about good form? His vitals were tortured by this problem. It was a claw within him sharper than the iron one.

Related Characters: Captain Jas. Hook
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
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:

The other boys were flying around him now, flouting, scornful; and as he staggered about the deck striking up at them impotently, his mind was no longer with them; it was slouching in the playing fields of long ago, or being sent up for good, or watching the wall-game from a famous wall. And his shoes were right, and his waistcoat was right, and his tie was right, and his socks were right.

Related Characters: Captain Jas. Hook
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

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: