Length of answer: 200-250 words
3. Discuss how adults and the adult world are constructed in Barrie’s Peter Pan and how they are made to contrast with the world of children.
Motivate your choice of text and illustrate your discussion with textual evidence, i.e. reference to the text.
In your answers make use of relevant terms and concepts from Gamble’s Exploring Children’s Literature. Example, themes, narrative, narrator etc
Imagination and the suppression of it are an early and key theme of Barrie's Peter Pan. As the story begins, we find Mrs. Darling tucking her children in for the evening. Not only does she tidy up their rooms in Chapter One, she makes sure she "tidies up" their minds as well:
"Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children's minds. 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. If you could keep awake (but of course you can't) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on."
When thinking about elements from Exploring Children's Literature, consider Gamble's contention that one of the chief conflicts in children's literature "character vs. self" or, in more common literary parlance, "man vs. himself." In stories for children, this conflict with the self is the "centre on fear and emotions" (72). Certainly this holds true for Peter Pan. For example, as the children get older, it becomes more and more difficult to retain their sense of wonder and suspension-of-disbelief. Peter warns, "The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
Another theme of Gamble's that correlates with Peter Pan is the frequent "voyage-home or home-away-home" trope (123). Indeed, Chapter 16 is titled "The Return Home." (After all, the reader is warned in the beginning that "All children, except one, grow up.") This is a part of the cycle that must occur, painful though it is. Peter watches the children from outside their window as they put their childish adventures behind them, packing them up in their memories just as Mrs. Darling had done in the opening chapter. All three of the children are happier to be home. The narrator describes the bittersweet scene:
"[H]ere could not have been a lovelier sight; but there was none to see it except a little boy who was staring in at the window. He had 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."