Symbols in Peter Pan
Symbols Examples in Peter Pan:
Chapter 2 - The Shadow 1
"So the older ones have become glassy-eyed and seldom speak (winking is the star language), but the little ones still wonder..." See in text (Chapter 2 - The Shadow)
Barrie uses stars as an extended metaphor for how humans mature. He states that the “older ones have become glassy-eyed” (talking about the stars), to symbolize how adults lose their “sparkle” and wonder.
Chapter 3 - Come Away, Come Away! 3
"to see a mermaid!..." See in text (Chapter 3 - Come Away, Come Away!)
Wendy dreams of seeing a mermaid, and Peter uses this to lure try to lure her to Neverland. In the story, Neverland symbolizes children’s ideal reality, a place where dreams become reality.
"I don't believe in fairies..." See in text (Chapter 3 - Come Away, Come Away!)
Fairies are symbolic of children’s imaginations, so when a child proclaims that they no longer believe in fairies and a fairy dies, their sense of wonder and imagination have also gone. Peter never wants to lose his imagination and never will because he is constantly interacting with fairies.
"a girl called Tinker Bell..." See in text (Chapter 3 - Come Away, Come Away!)
Tinker Bell is a small fairy, often described as a ball of light, who always follows Peter. Fairies are born when babies are born, and they die any time a child claims that fairies do exist. In this way, fairies are symbols of children’s imaginations.
Chapter 4 - The Flight 1
"Second to the right, and straight on till morning...." See in text (Chapter 4 - The Flight)
These directions to Neverland don’t really have any literal significance, meaning there is no way to actually follow this to any location. Since Neverland is a place where children do not grow old and never gain any responsibility, these impossible directions symbolize how growing old is out of people’s control.
Chapter 7 - The Home Under The Ground 1
"the bird sat on her eggs..." See in text (Chapter 7 - The Home Under The Ground)
Peter emphasizes the theme of the importance of motherhood by protecting the nesting mother bird. Mothers are symbols of strength and comfort in the story, something all children, even Peter and the Lost Boys crave.
Chapter 8 - The Mermaids' Lagoon 1
"would the mother desert her eggs? No..." See in text (Chapter 8 - The Mermaids' Lagoon)
Again the mother bird protecting her eggs builds on the theme of motherhood in the story. This symbol also parallels Wendy’s choice to brace herself for the pirates as she let the children sleep. Sleep is important for children (in the story) because it is the time when their imaginations can birth a sort of wondrous reality.
Chapter 14 - The Pirate Ship 1
"Are all the children chained, so that they cannot fly away?..." See in text (Chapter 14 - The Pirate Ship)
This metaphor shows how Hook wants the children to lose their imaginations before they die. Recall earlier when Peter teaches the Darling children to fly, telling them to fly they just need to believe. Keeping them in chains and preventing them from flying is symbolic of ruining their ability to believe.
Chapter 15 - Hook or Me This Time 1
"went content to the crocodile..." See in text (Chapter 15 - Hook or Me This Time)
Peter does not stab Hook for two reasons. First, the image of Peter stabbing Hook would not have been appropriate for children. Second (and more importantly), this symbolizes that Hook’s time is up and once again Peter has been able to evade the ticking of time.
Chapter 17 - When Wendy Grew Up 1
"But, alas, he forgot all about me..." See in text (Chapter 17 - When Wendy Grew Up)
Peter symbolizes eternal youth, so his ability to forget Wendy parallels her ability to forget her adventurous, young self. In Neverland, dreams become reality, but back home dreams vanish and reality takes hold. Once Wendy became fully immersed into the real world where she was to grow up, her imagination and memories of Peter fade.