LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

“Saying Goodbye”

on March 28, 2013 1:28pm

One of my favorite quotes from J.M Barrie is “Never say goodbye, because goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting.” This quote is not located in the book or any of the movies, although it is said that Barrie mentioned in one of his interviews. Since Peter Pan was a big success it became really famous.


 Peter Pan was one of my favorite movies and books to read when I was a child. Sometime I still believe I am Peter Pan because I do not want to grow up. Seeing the people in my life that I care for growing older and passing is difficult for me.When Barrie used this quote I can imagine Peter Pan saying it to Wendy because he loves her and she is leaving him to go back to her normal life and he does not want to forget her. It is hard for Peter Pan to never grow up because he will never grow old with Wendy. New people surround Peter every century and he will have to forget all of these people because they will leave him and he will continue to be the same age.Wendy does not want to forget about the boy she loves. She is the only one in her family who truly believes, though she tells herself not to. The mention of the quote was more exposed to the public after the Peter Pan movie made in 2003. The audience believes that Barrie was feeling this way during his time when he wrote Peter Pan and the director of the movie wanted to show the world the meaning of goodbye once again. Wendy expresses naïve adoration for Peter Pan as soon as they meet. She is honest to herself in the book and the movies. We all know that she has to grow up at some point and Peter refuses to do this. Wendy will have to accept the virtues of adulthood and return to London but now she believes in fairies. When Wendy Grew Up: An Afterthought was an epilogue to the play Peter Pan it was written by Barrie in response to questions he received about what happened to Wendy when she grew up after she said goodbye. Wendy now has a daughter named Jane and she is grown up with a family and married. When Peter Pan comes back to see his love he realizes that Wendy is not that little girl he thought she would have been. Now Peter Pan realizes the meaning of letting go and he decided to take her daughter to Neverland. Wendy trusted him and believed that her daughter would make the same choices as she did to have the experiences that would bring out her more adult side. The same thing that happened to Wendy will happen to Jane, Jane’s daughter, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This story will repeat consecutively until Peter grows and learns how to finally say goodbye. Barrie use Peter Pan in his book so children believe in fairies and can visit Neverland where everything imaginary is possible.  





3 responses to ““Saying Goodbye”

  1. thethenabean says:

    This aspect of Peter Pan (that of the relationship between Peter and Wendy) has always been my favorite of both the books and movie. It is, I think, a story that embodies bitter sweetness – something beautiful that we have experienced which must nevertheless leave our lives at some point. In a way, the way that their emerging “love” ends is similar to the way that a great many coming of age relationships end: with one person outgrowing the other. In some ways, it is easier for relationships to end with fights or falling outs, and Peter Pan demonstrates so clearly the poignant heartbreak of that less climactic finale to love.

    I think it’s also important to consider in the context of the novel and the author that while Barrie is often assumed to be enacting some sort of fantasy life through his work, it is certainly not a story free from heartbreak and loss. While Peter Pan is, true, primarily a fantasy story about a magical land with mermaids and pirates, it is also a story of growing up and learning things. Perhaps Barrie, in spite of those who insist on his obliviousness and determination to stay “not grown up”, was very keenly aware of the effect his personality had on his relationships. Can Wendy not easily be seen as an allusion to Barrie’s wife, who was too practical and mature for her marriage with Barrie to work out? Peter does not give up his life to go with her, but clearly he does experience some sort of loss and sadness at her leaving. Barrie, I would argue, is less unaware of his feelings and more incapable of acting on them.

    While Peter Pan is an excellent adventure story, I have always found that the personal relationships in it – particularly that between him and Wendy – are the more engaging of the story.

  2. dkamauf says:

    This is such an interesting post! I found it to be very admirable that you included your personal experiences and views and tied it into this story. When you mentioned that new people surround Peter Pan every century, then just leave him, because they age and he stays the same age, that spoke to me, and made me realize that this is a very painful story of loss. I had no idea that the quote was mentioned in the cinematic version, although I can safely assume that it would cause a greater wonder about Barrie’s meaning behind goodbyes, in general and in specificity. It’s sad to think that Wendy grew up and lead a life without Peter because he is conflicted by a sense of agelessness and immaturity. Wendy is also a very strong character because she learns to grow up and say goodbye, despite the pain she feels. I really enjoyed how you mentioned Peter Pan provides experiences to Wendy, and to Jane, her grandchildren, etc.. This speaks to the very cyclical nature of never knowing how to say goodbye and growing up. Holding on is important, but being able to say goodbye is also very important, and a very hard lesson to learn.

  3. I really enjoyed your post about this topic. I think that you hit a great point when you said that Barrie could also be writing about himself with Peter and that he had the “little boy syndrome.” But also I think he had a hard time with people growing up and dying like all of the people in the Llewelyn Davies family and also his brother. I also enjoyed that you used your own personal feelings in the post. I often feel that way in college with everyone getting jobs, graduating, getting married, etc. You almost feel like the world is passing you by.

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