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.
Fairness and Good Form ThemeTracker
Fairness and Good Form Quotes in Peter Pan
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.
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.
'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.
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.