The narrator in J. M Barrie’s Peter Pan creates readers to develop a consciousness of form through the knowledge from narratives. The more they read the more readers would uncontrollably start to grow up. The narrator readdresses the story from a third person viewpoint with a first person opinion, prompting a unique presence. However readers know that the narrator is not in the story, he has no material existence and hovers in the background throughout the novel. The narrator subliminally hinders readers’ thoughts and imaginations with thoughts of his own.
It resembles how an adult would tell a story to a child, giving their teachings and opinions on morals as they narrate the story. The use of the dual perspectives has effectively and simultaneously created a distinct separation between the story and the readers – two dimensions were created. One dimension is the story world and the other is the reader’s world. Readers cannot touch the story world nor can the story world touch the reader’s world (the reality). The narrator is the only one who can go between the two dimensions.
We, as the readers, can only perceive the story by reading the narrator’s mind – we are not reading what he sees but what he perceives. He is our frame of perception. To continue, he demonstrates his ability to interact with the characters. For example, he offers a proposition to Mrs. Darling saying he could spare her ten days of pain by returning her children to her earlier in exchange to give the children a cold shoulder. “But, my dear madam, it is ten days till Thursday week; so that by telling you what’s what, we can save you ten days of unhappiness. (PP, p. 136) In fact his ability does not even provide any useful progression for the novel.
The proposition makes the story seems very malleable, as if it was being improvised, yet the use of past tense in the entire novel creates the paradox to show that it is fixed. The proposition proves that the narrator can alter the entire novel. Whilst in the end Mrs. Darling is surprised to see her children at the nursery, the demonstration of his ability supports the idea that we are reading the narrator’s mind and he can simply change what he perceives.
Therefore, naturally affecting what the readers perceive and thus he can easily lead us astray. By wanting to change the ending makes us consider of the accuracy of his perception and reliability on the story. However on the other hand, it is more likely to suggest that he wants the change when retelling the story as it enforces the idea that we are reading through his frame. Furthermore, the narrator asks us to time the events of the battle on the pirate ship. “There was a splash, then silence.
How long has this taken? ” (pp. 125) The question strongly reminds the reader of the different dimensions – the story is there and readers are here. Time is different between the two dimensions: everything you perceive is different. The narrator is implying that readers can never truly experience the fantasy of a story world. The narrator never allows the readers to get consumed by the story, he will constantly “wake you up” and reset the line between the two worlds – reminding us that this is make-believe, literary.
I mention the properties of literacy because Barrie wishes to convey the idea that as we read Peter Pan, we are learning – solidifying the maps of our minds through knowledge to develop a consciousness of form: “I don’t know whether you have ever seen a map of a person’s mind. Doctors sometimes draw maps of other parts of you, and your own map can become intensely interesting, but catch them trying to draw a map of a child’s mind, which is not only confused, but keeps going round all the time. ” (pp. )
The narrator portrays the metaphor of a map to a mind, the children are naïve and easily coloured therefore they can undergo change and can take the path of anything. The map in children minds “keeps going round all the time” and have not yet been solidified. The map of an adult’s mind is solid, fixed: adults have grown to take their own certain paths of belief and know the meaning of good and bad form. “According to Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘A Gossip on Romance,’ romances ‘may be nourished with the realities of life, but their true mark is to satisfy the nameless longings of the reader, and to obey the ideal laws of the daydream.
The right kind of thing should follow; and not only the characters talk aptly and think naturally, but all the circumstances in the tale answer one to another like notes in music. ” (Blake pp. 165) Following the scheme for romanticism, there is a scheme for good and bad form as it obeys the laws of the daydream and it corresponds to each situation properly like “notes in music”. In Neverland, Hook is the pirate captain and embodies evil, the presentation of bad form. While Peter is a child with good form, a protagonist. Pirates are evil and children are nice.
This romanticism exists because the narrator wishes to teach morals to the children (readers). The narrator interprets the good and bad forms from the actions of the characters and therefore delivering the consciousness of form to the readers. The quality that classifies an adult is simply the consciousness of form. Mr. Darling displays a bad form when he pretended to take the medicine in the nursery. “Wendy gave the words, one, two, three, and Michael took his medicine, but Mr. Darling slipped his behind his back.
There was a yell of rage from Michael, and “O father! ” Wendy exclaimed. ” (pp. 6) In this scenario, Mr. Darling went against his word. As for Michael, he never contemplated the option to do the same, so when he witnessed his own father cheat him he had become conscious of that certain possibility and started to grow up. I must remind that since Michael witnessed Mr. Darling cheat, so did the readers. Barrie’s narrator meticulously inputs the consciousness of form into the readers as well. Afterwards, the narrator perceived that “Mr. Darling was frightfully ashamed of himself” (pp. 16) enforces the bad form to the readers that going against your word is wrong and immoral.
Conjointly, when Hook launches a surprise attack on the redskins is a bad form: “The pirate attack had been a complete surprise: a sure proof that the unscrupulous Hook had conducted it improperly, for to surprise the redskins fairly is beyond the wit of the white man. ” (pp. 101) Hook’s lack of moral principle is shown here to support the idea that adults have the knowledge and consciousness to cheat. In addition, the fights between Peter and Hook were the clash between the pinnacles of good and bad forms respectively. “Peter invited his opponent to pick up his sword.
Hook did so instantly, but with a tragic feeling that Peter was showing good form” (pp. 131) Here Peter fought fairly, exhibiting the just gesture to not harm an unarmed man and fight on equal grounds. Hook on the other hand, even bit Peter during a duel with swords. “Not the pain of this but its unfairness was what dazed Peter. ” (pp. 79) Similar to the scenario with the medicine, Peter was given the consciousness of form. Technically, Peter should start to grow up, but because he gets over it quickly which made him different from the rest. ‘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. ” (pp. 131) The narrator points out that it was Peter’s ignorance of knowledge that was the pinnacle of good form because even the consciousness of form would be a bad form as “was it not bad form to think about good form? ” (pp. 117) Is it not to maintain a certain poise and composure in society lying and cheating oneself?
The narrator knows this and proves that the consciousness of form is the key formula to grow up. To know what is good form and what is bad form is the essence of growing up. All children are born without knowledge and their maps are very fluid. They solidify their maps by the exposure to form from assimilating knowledge by reading. The exposure creates a consciousness in their mind, by knowing what good and bad is we start to grow up. Barrie’s narrator brings the exposure to the reader’s mind. He will constantly give his opinion and highlights the frame of the two dimensions.
By doing so, he brings the quality of consciousness to the reader. Therefore, the narrator is progressively making the readers grow up. Barrie does this because he knows that all children will grow up. He observed that as a child matures, they would always take on the certain form of an adult. Whether it is good form or bad form, every adult will have a fixed belief and will stick to it because that is what they believe in. Barrie sets Peter Pan as a symbol for an everlasting child because he gave Peter the quality of ignorance, as he is just “a little bird that has broken out of the egg. ” (pp. 31)
Barrie might have drawn a parallel between his use of narrator and the story of Adam and Eve. Adam symbolizes children and their ignorance while Eve would be the Mothers who sought out the Tree of Knowledge and finally the snake would be the narrator. The parallel is merely just an observation but it could be quite possible since it enforces the Christian faith of the time. Peter Pan is rendered in a medium of bad form, and everything that has happened in Neverland follows the structure of form. Barrie follows the structure of form as well and conforms to the fact that everyone will grow up and think for him or herself.