LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Peter Pan as a Classic

on March 20, 2013 8:46pm

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.

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One response to “Peter Pan as a Classic

  1. n3sriab says:

    I agree that “Peter Pan” is a classic for these reasons. I feel that something should be considered a classic because it not only captivates the readers of that time period, but continues to emanate with readers in future eras, it is timeless.
    By placing the story in Kensington Gardens, a tangible location, versus Wonderland, or Neverland, or Oz, a place that we can only access by chance, through a dream, or by the help of those who live their, and having Maimie stay past lock out time and actually meet Peter Pan, I feel that this adds to the sense that perhaps this story could actually happen. It creates the allure, especially for the child, who is taught that lock out time is lock out time, and he or she must be home after dark, that perhaps Peter Pan is actually out there, and we just don’t know it.
    In class, today, we talked about how Barrie’s writing style, and his method of warping time is unique to the books that we have read, thus far. I feel that perhaps this enhances the reader’s sense that “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” should be deemed a classic. By warping the reader’s sense of time, the book takes on a fanciful feel, which enhances the idea that perhaps this is not just a story, but a fairy tale–a legend. The character of Peter Pan becomes more than just a boy in a story book, but an icon, someone who can believed to actually exist in real life, just out of reach.If a tale has an ability to create such a strong emotional attachment to the main character, to the point of wanting to believe that he is real, I believe that it is worthy of the title Classic.

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