Discussion Topic

The role and symbolism of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan

Summary:

The Lost Boys in Peter Pan symbolize the innocence and freedom of perpetual childhood. They represent the desire to remain young and avoid the responsibilities of adulthood. Their existence in Neverland, a place where children never grow up, underscores the theme of escapism and the longing for an eternal, carefree youth.

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Who are the Lost Boys in Peter Pan and what are their characteristics?

Peter Pan explains to Wendy that he lives in Neverland with the lost boys. When Wendy asks who they are, Peter says that they are children who have fallen out of their perambulators "when the nurse is looking the other way." He then jovially says that "if they are not claimed within seven days, they are sent far away to the Neverland to defray expenses," as if the boys were lost property left at a railway station. There is much debate surrounding the lost boys and what they represent—darker readings of the text suggest they may be children who died when they were small, or miscarried babies. However, Barrie tells us that "all children except one grow up." The lost boys are not exceptions to this rule; Peter alone is exempt. When the lost boys are seen to be growing up ("which is against the rules") Peter "thins them out"—one presumes that this means they are sent home from Neverland, but in the preceding line Barrie does say that the lost boys "get killed," so it could even be inferred that Peter, as captain, is responsible for executing the boys as a form of population control.

The lost boys are, according to Peter, all rather lonely because there are no girls to keep them company (because girls are far too clever to fall out of their prams). The boys are "sure-footed" and wear bearskins, being forbidden to look like Peter in any way. They are brave and rather bloodthirsty, have been taught to obey Peter in everything, and the most conceited thing they can do is "remember the day before they were lost"—this making it more difficult for the boys to live in Neverland under Peter's rule.

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Who are the Lost Boys in Peter Pan and what are their characteristics?

The Lost Boys in Peter Pan are the six boys plus Peter, who is their captain, who live in Never Land. They all are boys who fell out of their prams (baby carriages) when their nurses failed to pay attention. After a week being unclaimed, they were shipped off to Never Land.

The Lost Boys have distinct identities except for The Twins: they are Tootles, Nibs, Curly, Slightly, and The Twins. Tootles is a sweet boy who often misses out on adventures from being in the wrong place. He also shoots Wendy when Tinkerbell tells him Wendy is a bird Peter wants killed. Tootles greatly regrets doing this. He is happy when she survives, and he goes on to defend her. Nibs is happy and brave. Curly has curly hair and tends to get into trouble because he is not very intelligent, but he is a likable lad. Slightly is musical and thinks highly of himself because he can remember what life was like before he was lost.

Collectively, the Lost Boys long for the mother they never had. They are, therefore, thrilled at the arrival of Wendy, who functions as a mother figure for them, and they follow Peter's lead in rallying around her. They are also happy when they can later be adopted by the Darlings and live in England.

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What do the lost boys symbolize in Peter Pan?

According to Peter Pan, the lost boys are "boys who fall out of their prams when the nurse is looking the other way and, if they are not claimed in seven days, they are sent far away to the Neverland."

The lost boys can be understood as a symbol for all orphaned children. This is why Barrie presented them as carefree, playful, and—more often than not—naughty and ill-behaved, as they've basically grown up without adult supervision or guidance. By the end of the novel, they realize that they cannot stay with Peter forever and decide to return to London with Wendy.

Barrie believed that all children should grow up happy and loved and should be able to love in return. The fact that all of the lost boys end up being adopted and grow up into good and kind adults who live comfortable and fulfilled lives only solidifies the point that Barrie was trying to make.

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