Discuss the ending of Peter Pan.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

An appealing tale because it incorporates fantasy with adventure, the ending of Peter Pan illustrates Barrie's light satire with a romantic tone.

In Chapter XV, Peter boards Hook's ship and challenges him.

"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. 

Peter engages in a sword fight with his enemy on board Hook's ship and sends Hook into the sea, where the crocodile who has eaten Hook's arm awaits him. After this, the boys sail the ship homeward. With light satire, Berrie writes that while the boys have found "some glamour in the pirate calling, all that Wendy saw was that the ship had not been tidied for years."

Feeling the need to belong to a family, the Darlings return home--"It was quite time we came back," Wendy declares, but Peter, who wants to avoid any responsibility or commitment, refuses to join them, agreeing, though, to come and visit. Before they arrive, Wendy's mother has everything ready for their return--"You see, the woman had no proper spirit"--Barrie's narrator comments.

Because Mr. Darling has felt that the blame for the children's departure has been his fault since he took the Nurse Nana, the family dog, to its kennel on the night that the children left, he now resides in the dog's kennel. When Mrs. Darling begs him to come out, he only replies, "No, my own one, this is the place for me."

Mrs. Darling waits for her children's return and she and Mr. Darling are elated when they come back to them, joined by the many lost boys. Only one boy does not enter the Darling home, Peter Pan. He watches Wendy one more time before he flies away. While he has not come to the window, Peter brushes against it as he passes so that Wendy can open it if she wants or she can call to him.

For Wendy, "it was quite time we came back." Peter refuses to stay because he does not want to grow up. However, he returns for spring cleaning in order to take Wendy to help him. Still, there are some years that he forgets to come. Eventually, Wendy can no longer fly and she becomes an adult with a child of her own, named Jane. One night Peter arrives and Wendy tells him she is too old for him, but Jane rises in the air just as Peter is about to leave. He takes her, and when she grows up and has a daughter Margaret, Peter comes and takes her.

A classic exploration of the tensions between the desire to remain a child forever and be mature, Peter Pan is considered a parable of the conflicts between the child and the adult in all people.

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Barrie's story ends with a small level of twist, but fairly telling ending.  The Darlings wait for the children to return.  Despite his earlier request and desire to keep the children believing that they are unwanted, Peter does relent and allow the children to return to the nursery and to their home.  The Lost Boys go with and are adopted by the Darlings.  For his own part, Peter does not want to be adopted and leaves.  The consolation is that Wendy will visit Peter each year for Spring Cleaning.  The ending reflects Peter's inability to grow up, for if he were adopted, the implication would be maturation and growth, what Peter refuses.  At the same time, staying with the family would require a level of responsibility and commitment, something about which Peter possesses fear.  Even during make- believe, Peter cannot embrace emotional commitment that benefits another.  The ending reflects that, in so far as Wendy will still be with Peter, but only for a short period of time- a reflection of Peter's emotional immaturity.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team