Peter Pan Summary
Peter Pan is a children’s novel by J. M. Barrie. It follows the adventures of the Darling children and Peter Pan, a boy who never grows up.
Peter Pan flies into Wendy Darling’s room and convinces her and her brothers to come to Neverland with him and his fairy, Tinker Bell.
In Neverland, Peter and the Darlings live with the lost boys, with Wendy acting as the boys’ mother. They also battle Captain Hook and his pirate crew.
- The Darlings return to London, where their parents adopt the lost boys. Peter remains in Neverland, but returns to take Wendy’s daughter on an adventure.
Last Updated November 3, 2023.
J. M. Barrie’s classic work Peter Pan (1904) tells the story of the Darling children’s journey to the magical islands of Neverland with Peter Pan, an adventurous young boy who refuses to grow up. The omniscient narrator—who addresses the audience in the first person—introduces the Darling family, which includes Mr. and Mrs. Darling; their three children, Wendy, John, and Michael; and a dog named Nana. The family resides in London, where the children share a nursery. In the present, Wendy tells Mrs. Darling about a boy named Peter Pan, who visits her dreams from a place called Neverland.
After the children go to sleep, Peter Pan unexpectedly enters through their bedroom window, startling Mrs. Darling. When Mr. and Mrs. Darling leave the house to attend a nearby dinner party, Peter returns with his fairy, Tinker Bell. Wendy awakes and helps Peter attach his shadow to his body. Peter tells Wendy that he has no parents and that he refuses to ever become an adult; he lives in Neverland with a group of abandoned children who refer to themselves as “the lost boys.” Intrigued with Neverland, Wendy asks him about fairies, which reminds Peter that he accidentally trapped Tinker Bell inside a closed drawer.
Peter entices Wendy to join him on a trip to Neverland. John and Michael, who have since woken up, are eager to join. Peter then blows fairy dust on the three Darling children, and they begin flying around the room. Meanwhile, Nana has stormed the Darlings’ dinner party to warn the parents that something is happening with the children, but before the parents make it to the nursery, the children have already flown with Peter and Tinker Bell out the window and toward the stars.
The Darling children, flying over Neverland, find familiar landmarks from their dreams. As they prepare to land, however, the sky becomes dark; Peter thus warns them of the pirates on the island, explaining that he is responsible for the loss of Captain James Hook’s right hand, having thrown him to the crocodile that ate it. Soon after, the pirates fire a cannon into the sky. John and Michael land in a different area than Wendy and Tinker Bell, and Peter is nowhere to be found.
The narrator introduces the lost boys, the rest of the pirates, and the redskins. Along with Peter, the lost boys live in a home underground. As Wendy and Tinker Bell arrive, the boys initially mistake Wendy for a bird, and one of them, Tootles, shoots her with an arrow, right before Peter arrives. Luckily, Wendy survives and is soon reunited with her brothers, but she is still unconscious. Subsequently, Peter insists that they build Wendy a house. After it is complete, the boys knock on Wendy’s new door, and she invites them in to read Cinderella.
Peter and the boys convince Wendy to be their mother. Over time—which is hard to calculate in Neverland—Wendy, John, and Michael become accustomed to living with the lost boys. As Wendy takes care of the boys, she becomes concerned when John and Michael seem to forget their parents. However, Wendy feels confident that her mother has left the window open for her and her brothers for when they return.
The group decides to visit the Mermaids’ Lagoon for an adventure. While they are there, two of Hook’s comrades, Smee and Starkey, arrive at the lagoon, with Tiger Lily—the leader of the redskins—as their prisoner. Peter decides to save Tiger Lily by impersonating Hook’s voice and commanding the other pirates to set her free. The real Hook appears soon after, however;...
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Peter and Hook engage in a duel, which ends with Hook injuring Peter’s hand. During the commotion, Peter and Wendy are separated from the group and stranded on a rock. Sensing the immediate danger, Peter helps Wendy fly away on a kite. After ensuring her safety, he stumbles across a Never bird, who empties her nest in order to carry Peter through the air. He arrives at the home underground to find Wendy safe with the lost boys.
Wendy and Peter continue to cultivate a loving home for the lost boys. The narrator, however, warns the audience that this will be the children’s last night on the island. During story time, Wendy tells the boys about her parents and the Darlings’ life in London; in this story, the children return home in the end. Wendy, John, and Michael then realize that they need to go home. Peter, feigning indifference toward their departure, makes preparations.
Unbeknownst to the group, the pirates are waiting above the home underground. As the children come out of their trees, the pirates attack and take them captive. Realizing that Peter is not among them, Hook spies on Peter while he sleeps and poisons Peter’s medicine. After Hook leaves, Peter awakes as Tinker Bell arrives. She warns him that the medicine is poisoned and ends up drinking it herself to save him. As she dies, Peter cries out to all the sleeping children to confirm their belief in fairies. When this suggestion works, Tinker Bell and Peter depart to save Wendy and the lost boys.
The children are now in chains on the pirate ship. As Hook tells Wendy that she will watch all of her children walk the plank, a ticking sound—coming from the crocodile that also ate a clock in addition to Hook’s hand—reverberates along the deck. Hook commands the other pirates to hide him; meanwhile, the children run to the ship’s edge to see that it is actually Peter, not the crocodile, making the ticking noise.
Peter boards the ship, reuniting with the lost boys, and goes into the cabin. Smee assures Hook and the other pirates that the ticking sound has gone away. Hook, relieved, asks the children if they would like to see his cat before they walk the plank and orders the other pirates to fetch his cat from the cabin, without realizing that Peter is hiding inside. Peter, after killing each of the pirates who enters the cabin, goes to save Wendy, who is tied to the ship’s mast. He unchains the other boys and takes Wendy’s place. When the pirates discover that Peter has been on the ship the whole time, they become angry with Hook. The boys then attack and easily defeat them. The boys then encircle Hook and Peter as the two engage in a sword fight. Hook, defeated, eventually runs from the fight and jumps overboard into the sea. To his misfortune, Hook sees the crocodile next to him in the water, is attacked, and dies.
After defeating the pirates, Peter, the lost boys, and Wendy sail the pirate ship across the sea to the Darling home. Meanwhile, Mrs. Darling sits in the nursery, in front of the open window from which her children departed. Soon after, the Darlings reunite while Peter watches from outside the window. After the Darlings agree to adopt the lost boys, Wendy introduces her mother to Peter. He wants Wendy to come with him back to Neverland, so Mrs. Darling suggests that Peter come to visit Wendy to take her on a yearly trip to Neverland to do Peter’s spring cleaning.
However, many years pass without Peter visiting Wendy. Wendy, still living in the house she grew up in, now has a daughter named Jane who is familiar with her mother’s stories about Peter Pan and Neverland. One night, Peter appears at the window to take Wendy to Neverland, unaware of how much time has passed. Jane subsequently wakes up and meets Peter and tells him that she has been waiting for him. With Wendy’s permission, Jane flies with Peter to Neverland to do his spring cleaning.