Date on Honors Thesis

Fall 11-15-2016


English and Philosophy

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Andrew Black, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Danielle Nielsen, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Dr. William Jones, Committee Member


Although known today as simply Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie’s classic children’s novel was originally titled Peter and Wendy. This paper explores the famous children’s story from Wendy Darling’s perspective, taking particular interest in the narrator’s contradictory stance on Wendy her agency in the original novelized text. Peter Pan may be the most well known of Barrie’s characters, but the novel’s story is Wendy’s. The relationship between a mother and her children forms the crux of the novel; without Wendy, without her relationship with her own mother and her desire to play grown-up, there is no story. Peter Pan is at its core about the necessity of adulthood and the danger of nostalgia. Peter embodies childhood’s contrariness, but without Wendy’s practicality he faces no real temptation beyond his own inherent mirth. Wendy forms a bridge between reality and Neverland; her internal conflict over either growing up or living forever in childhood make-believe is the story’s central conflict as well. The paper, then, is an examination of Wendy’s story and her importance both within the text and outside it as a classic character famously embedded in popular culture.