I have never thought about the meaning of “classic” until this course. As I grew up, I would hear this term as when in the 1990s my mother bought Snow White when it first came out on VHS because it was a classic and when in school my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Kuwabara, recommended Harry Potter to me because she said it would become a classic. I learned to recognize and use this word without really knowing and understanding what it meant. Among friends, a phrase or an activity would be named a “classic” in jest, such as buying Doritos after school—Doritos are a classic snack food! Playing tag at recess would become a classic activity even though we only had been playing tag together for a few weeks. Daniel’s fat pet cat stories were classics. J.Lo’s latest song became a classic. These things were sentimental to us, and so they garnered the name “classic.” The one trait all of these so-called “classics” shared was a sense of captivation. There was an alluring, captivating aspect to all these objects and activities. The act of eating Doritos after school became a nostalgic kind of captivation. Tag was an exhilarating type of captivation, and so on.
When deciding on what to discuss about Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, I decided to write about why it is considered a classic. It actually took a good couple of hours of wondering to try to pinpoint the reason or reasons why. I had always just known things to be classics but not necessarily why. Some books are classics because other people say they are, and some people say books are classics because of the attached sentimental feelings. Both these groups of people found something worthwhile and captivating about whatever they deem a classic, and I now know that’s what makes Peter Pan a classic.
Peter Pan is a classic because of its captivating nature. The story includes magical and impossible things, but they are set in a very concrete and very real environment, which leads the reader to want to believe in the absurd and the magical because it’s more fun—more captivating. How wondrous it must be to play all night in whatever manner you choose, never know fear, and to see fairies dance! Both young and old can relate to some portion of this book. Who wants to grow up and grow old and have responsibilities truly? Peter Pan, the character, embodies the timelessness I feel most people desire, a happiness achievable only by children who do not know pain and fear. Aside from those self-identifications, the story is full of whimsy and the unreal. Fairies and birds-turned-babies, flying, wishes, and all manner of things born of the creative imagination are written down for our entertainment and enjoyment. Peter Pan is a classic because whether it’s understanding what it means to be happy or getting to read about mythical creatures, Peter Pan has something to offer to, something to captivate its readers with.