J.M. Barrie Question #30 - An Awfully Big Adventure

by Andrew Birkin

Moderator: Liz

Pamela

Status: Offline

Unread postby Pamela » Mon Sep 13, 2004 2:29 pm

First, in reference to George's death, I do think that going off to war was thought of as a very big adventure up until WWI. The best and the brightest were going off and dying in a particularly ugly war, a war decided upon by old men for young men to fight in. I do believe that attitudes toward war changed incredibly after WWI.

Michael's death on the otherhand, seems so suspicious. To drown in a place known to be dangerous and he, a non-swimmer. As well as the friend who was with him. It does appear likely that his death was a suicide.

I, too, am a bit confused as to what the question is. But do I think that because Barrie wrote those words for Peter Pan these boys met early and perhaps avoidable deaths? No. To die in war was thought to be a worthy death, not something that Barrie invented. Michael's death is even more disturbing, but he was described as being a very sensitive boy. This, to me, was the main tragedy of the Lost Boys, whether it it was a suicide or an accident. But then, I do not understand suicide under any circumstances.

User avatar
Liz
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

Unread postby Liz » Mon Sep 13, 2004 2:29 pm

lumineuse wrote:Probably more to do with the fact he created a character who would never grow up based on two boys who would never grow old.


Oh that is so sad, but so true. :sad: What is so great about these discussions is that everyone looks at things differently, which enhances one's knowledge and appreciation of the book. I can't imagine sitting down and reading this book and then not being able to discuss it.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

User avatar
lumineuse
Posts: 5991
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2004 10:50 am
Location: Erie, PA, USA

Status: Offline

Unread postby lumineuse » Mon Sep 13, 2004 2:46 pm

Liz wrote:
lumineuse wrote:Probably more to do with the fact he created a character who would never grow up based on two boys who would never grow old.


Oh that is so sad, but so true. :sad: What is so great about these discussions is that everyone looks at things differently, which enhances one's knowledge and appreciation of the book. I can't imagine sitting down and reading this book and then not being able to discuss it.


Despite being an avid reader, I have never participated in a book club before. It truly is wonderful to be able to widen your viewpoint by hearing those of other people. And it's great to be able to bounce your own ideas around, too. I really am sorry I missed earlier discussions - I'm sure I would have learned a lot from the one on Kerouac. Thanks to you and DITHOT for the work you put into this.
"Oh, good!........ No worries, then."

User avatar
suec
Posts: 1381
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:57 pm
Location: uk

Status: Offline

Unread postby suec » Mon Sep 13, 2004 4:49 pm

lumineuse wrote:
Liz wrote:
lumineuse wrote:Probably more to do with the fact he created a character who would never grow up based on two boys who would never grow old.


Oh that is so sad, but so true. :sad: What is so great about these discussions is that everyone looks at things differently, which enhances one's knowledge and appreciation of the book. I can't imagine sitting down and reading this book and then not being able to discuss it.


Despite being an avid reader, I have never participated in a book club before. It truly is wonderful to be able to widen your viewpoint by hearing those of other people. And it's great to be able to bounce your own ideas around, too. I really am sorry I missed earlier discussions - I'm sure I would have learned a lot from the one on Kerouac. Thanks to you and DITHOT for the work you put into this.


I second that. Great thought and effort. Coincidence or not? Hard to say, but yes in George's case. So many young lads struck down in their prime. Sadly, his story is not exceptional. Michael, now. Well, there are so many "coincidences connected here, such as what happned to Birkin's own son. Uncanny. I am unsure about Michael's death being a coincidence. There are references in the book about the possibility of him committing suicide. There was a summary of the story on the news board and I remember being quite surprised when it was so confidently asserted that Michael killed himself, but looking back at the passage, it certainly seems a possibility. It may have been in his nature anyway, but the deaths of his parents may have been a strong factor in developing a morbid way of thinking. Also, George's death. I also wonder about the influence of Peter Pan, and the extent to which Michael identified himself with that character, what with both being motherless boys and knowing that he had helped to inspire his creation. Did he see himself as the boy who would never grow old? And death as an adventure, with so many of his loved ones having gone on ahead? In which case, not a coincidence at all. I think the points about the possibility of JMB having some premonition on a subconscious level are very interesting too. I certainly believe in the power of intuition and am coming to trust it increasingly. I agree with nebraska on this one, I think. Coincidence is just a bit too much to accept, for me. They say things come in threes, but this is taking it too far!

User avatar
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Posts: 10378
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:43 pm
Location: Austin

Status: Offline

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Sep 13, 2004 6:58 pm

Liz is posting the tough questions again is she! :grin:

Busy day at work and I am just now able to check in and read the thread. Great answers! I think Birkin left the circumstances of Michael's death open to interpretation but my initial thought when I read the book was a suicide pact. Was the method by drowning thought out beforehand because of the similarity to PP? I haven't decided on that one. We know Michael was one of the favorites, if not the favorite, so Barrie's despair over his death on the heels of all the other tragedies in his life would have been devasting. I also wonder if the correspondence between Michael and JMB that was destroyed by Peter would have shed any light on Michael's thinking?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

User avatar
scarlett
Posts: 215
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:47 pm
Location: SC

Status: Offline

Unread postby scarlett » Mon Sep 13, 2004 7:39 pm

And let's not forget, that even though he did not die young, Peter also committed suicide with intimations that his depression in part came from never being able to shake the "Peter Pan" image. For the Davies boys, definitely not the happy ending that Barrie would have written for them.

User avatar
nebraska
Posts: 28325
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 8:15 pm
Location: near Omaha

Status: Offline

Unread postby nebraska » Mon Sep 13, 2004 11:42 pm

Pamela wrote:r. This, to me, was the main tragedy of the Lost Boys, whether it it was a suicide or an accident. But then, I do not understand suicide under any circumstances.


I am always amazed by people who say they have never considered suicide. I have been at more than one crossroads in my life when leaving this life looked like a real option, equal or perhaps better than the other choices. I marvel at people (and you are in the majority, I think, Pamela) who have never had such a dark and hopeless thought, that managed to always feel there was something positive on the other side of their difficulties.

One of my nephews comitted suicide and I remember the look of total peace on his face as he lay in his coffin. No matter what anyone else thought of his choice, I felt certain he had achieved what he needed for himself and was completely at peace.

It confuses me that we speak of heaven being the place of complete happines, the thing we all work for. When someone dies we always talk about how much better off they are to not be suffering/sad/whatever any more, that they are "in a better place" (as if we really were certain of what lies in the afterlife). Yet the most unpardonable wrong is to choose to go to that better place. I know the argument about suicide being sinful and maybe you go to the "other place." I still find it to be like talking out of both sides of your mouth when you say chosing to die is so bad, but dying leads to the most complete of all happiness.

User avatar
Liz
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

Unread postby Liz » Tue Sep 14, 2004 10:32 am

nebraska wrote:
Pamela wrote:r. This, to me, was the main tragedy of the Lost Boys, whether it it was a suicide or an accident. But then, I do not understand suicide under any circumstances.


I am always amazed by people who say they have never considered suicide. I have been at more than one crossroads in my life when leaving this life looked like a real option, equal or perhaps better than the other choices. I marvel at people (and you are in the majority, I think, Pamela) who have never had such a dark and hopeless thought, that managed to always feel there was something positive on the other side of their difficulties.

One of my nephews comitted suicide and I remember the look of total peace on his face as he lay in his coffin. No matter what anyone else thought of his choice, I felt certain he had achieved what he needed for himself and was completely at peace.

It confuses me that we speak of heaven being the place of complete happines, the thing we all work for. When someone dies we always talk about how much better off they are to not be suffering/sad/whatever any more, that they are "in a better place" (as if we really were certain of what lies in the afterlife). Yet the most unpardonable wrong is to choose to go to that better place. I know the argument about suicide being sinful and maybe you go to the "other place." I still find it to be like talking out of both sides of your mouth when you say chosing to die is so bad, but dying leads to the most complete of all happiness.


I think one’s views on suicide are directly related to one’s situation, temperament and religious beliefs. I think it must come from a feeling of desperation—that there is no other alternative—that things can’t get better—that there is no hope. I remember toying with the idea myself when in college at one point, but never really being serious. I was depressed but never lost hope. I don’t really want to get into a religious debate here, but just want to explain from an informational standpoint, the role of Christianity in keeping one from committing suicide. I think it is probably less common among strong believers because their viewpoint is that only God can take a life—including their own. Also, their belief is that God is really in charge and that he will come through and give them strength to get through whatever it is they are having to deal with at the time.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

User avatar
lumineuse
Posts: 5991
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 2004 10:50 am
Location: Erie, PA, USA

Status: Offline

Unread postby lumineuse » Tue Sep 14, 2004 10:33 am

nebraska wrote:
Pamela wrote:r. This, to me, was the main tragedy of the Lost Boys, whether it it was a suicide or an accident. But then, I do not understand suicide under any circumstances.


I am always amazed by people who say they have never considered suicide. I have been at more than one crossroads in my life when leaving this life looked like a real option, equal or perhaps better than the other choices. I marvel at people (and you are in the majority, I think, Pamela) who have never had such a dark and hopeless thought, that managed to always feel there was something positive on the other side of their difficulties.

One of my nephews comitted suicide and I remember the look of total peace on his face as he lay in his coffin. No matter what anyone else thought of his choice, I felt certain he had achieved what he needed for himself and was completely at peace.

It confuses me that we speak of heaven being the place of complete happines, the thing we all work for. When someone dies we always talk about how much better off they are to not be suffering/sad/whatever any more, that they are "in a better place" (as if we really were certain of what lies in the afterlife). Yet the most unpardonable wrong is to choose to go to that better place. I know the argument about suicide being sinful and maybe you go to the "other place." I still find it to be like talking out of both sides of your mouth when you say chosing to die is so bad, but dying leads to the most complete of all happiness.


I agree with you, nebraska. Society (at least ours) takes a somewhat schizophrenic view of suicide and death. We profess to believe in a better afterlife, and yet we actively fear death. While I have never seriously contemplated suicide, I have had enough dark nights of the soul to understand its appeal. And I do believe that people who are driven to such a desperate act truly feel that they are taking the best and only option that they have. I was thinking of you last night, nebraska. This can't have been an easy thread for you :grouphug:
"Oh, good!........ No worries, then."

User avatar
fansmom
Posts: 2059
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2004 4:50 pm
Location: Olney, Maryland

Status: Offline

Unread postby fansmom » Wed Sep 15, 2004 11:12 pm

Yes, I know the discussion has ended, but I went to the library today and got “Inventing Wonderland: Victorian Childhood As Seen Through The Lives And Fantasies Of Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, J.M. Barrie, Kenneth Grahame, and A. A. Milne,” by Jackie Wullschlager, and of course looked at the Barrie chapter first. I thought you might find this interesting, especially the last sentence:

“…Michael’s death at twenty-one shocked a wide circle of contemporaries. He too [like George] became something of a mythical figure, and one of a number of young men who had missed the war but died ‘accidental’ deaths, or committed suicide, in the years immediately following it. A subconscious cause, maybe, was their guilt at not having participated in the fight that had seen many of their peers killed. Kenneth Grahame’s [the author of “The Wind in the Willows] twenty-year-old son Alastair, who made his suicide look like an accident on a railway line, died exactly a year before Michael, also at Oxford. Each was born in 1900, each had been the centre of hope and love of a great children’s writer, and each had grown up in the shadow of masterpieces for and about childhood which had fixed the mood of the Edwardian age. In a sense, they were as much victims of the ["CUT", with an "L" between the last two letters--that word the ONBC won't let us use] of glorious youth as the war-time casualties; young men suffused in a personal sense by the dream of eternal boyhood, boys to whom Barrie and Grahame transferred their own ideals of childhood, and for whom adulthood then seemed impossible to face.”

User avatar
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Posts: 10378
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:43 pm
Location: Austin

Status: Offline

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Sep 15, 2004 11:21 pm

Jackie Wullschlager
Look for more on this from Birkin.

In a sense, they were as much victims of the ["CUT", with an "L" between the last two letters--that word the ONBC won't let us use] of glorious youth as the war-time casualties;

Please don't feel :censored: !!! Apologies if we have given that impression!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

User avatar
fansmom
Posts: 2059
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2004 4:50 pm
Location: Olney, Maryland

Status: Offline

Unread postby fansmom » Thu Sep 16, 2004 8:55 am

Oh DITHOT, the censoring problem isn't the ONBC, it's got to be some weird programming thing. The word I tried to quote in my post ( takes the a's out of the following "c a u a l a t" ) gets changed to cult. I don't understand why, but it does. Upper case, lower case, with spaces between the letters, with asterisks between the letters, it all comes out as cult, so I have to write it in code. How odd, especially since someone wrote "penis" on one of the other boards the other day.

Ha! I previewed what I had written to make sure it would work. I still can't believe that TLUC (backwards this time) doesn't work, but "penis" does.

User avatar
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Posts: 10378
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:43 pm
Location: Austin

Status: Offline

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Sep 16, 2004 7:07 pm

it's got to be some weird programming thing.


Good! You had me worried there! I haven't had that happen so I don't know why it would kick out certain words and not others. Very odd indeed :-?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


Return to “J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest