Peter Pan


J.M. Barrie

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The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Analysis

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.
The Fantastic and the Commonplace Theme Icon

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 roles, like the lost boys and the indians, who sometimes “in the middle of a fight … would suddenly change sides.”

In the adult world there is Mrs. Darling, who rearranges her children’s minds at night; there are night-lights who “yawn” and sometimes fall asleep, and stars who shout things like: “Now, Peter!” There is a dog who behaves like a lady, and a man who sleeps in a kennel. Sometimes Neverland “comes too near” the adult world and strange boys break through. And in Neverland there are fairies who fix kitchenware, and pirates who worry about their outfits; there are times when the game of ordinary life is a more fantastic adventure than any of the wonders of imagination. The tragedy of growing up is qualified, minimized, by its partial but continual postponement. No one ever entirely grows up.

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The Fantastic and the Commonplace ThemeTracker

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

Below you will find the important quotes in Peter Pan related to the theme of The Fantastic and the Commonplace.
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:

It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day.

Related Characters: Mrs. Darling
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

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:
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:
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:

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:
Chapter 14 Quotes

There was little sound, and none agreeable save the whir of the ship's sewing machine at which Smee sat, ever industrious and obliging, the essence of the commonplace, pathetic Smee.

Related Characters: Smee and the pirates
Page Number: 151
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

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:

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:
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:

It is only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly.

Related Characters: Wendy (speaker)
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis: