Are You Like Peter Pan?

By | July 29, 2022

[July 29, 2022]  Peter Pan is this magical boy.  “Pan” means the god of everything and it is no accident that Peter has the name Pan.  He’s the boy that won’t grow up.  And he’s magical.  And that’s because children are dynamic and magical; they can be anything … but they are nothing but potential.  Pan doesn’t want to give that up being a child.  Why?

A child is all potential.  Like all of  us, to be an adult, Peter has to sacrifice his potential to become the limited but specialized and potentially useful adult.  Yet he does not like that.  Peter Pan confronts this question and decides that he rejects being mature.  He does so for several reasons.

Peter has got some adults around him.  But, the main adult is Captain Hook.  Who would want to be like Captain Hook?  He has a hook for an arm, he’s a tyrant, he’s brutal, a coward, and a crocodile is chasing him (with a clock in crocodile’s stomach).  Peter Pan looks at Hook and rejects him as a model of the adult.  And, who wouldn’t?

Furthermore, Peter Pan does not establish a relationship with Wendy (who is real and a young adult woman).  Wendy wants to have kids and a family.  Pan sacrifices his relationship with this real woman, Wendy.  So, Pan has to settle for the fairy Tinker Bell (who is a substitute for the real thing).

Fine, but Pan becomes king of the Lost Boys in Neverland (which doesn’t exist).  It does not take much to be the leader of nothing.  One way to think of it is that Peter Pan becomes leader of the lost losers; because that is what it is.  Peter will not mature.  There are many who grow up physically but fail to mature.  And this is why the Peter Pan story is so popular.  We see ourselves and others in this story.

There is a sacrificial element to adulthood.  You sacrifice the potential of childhood for the actuality of being an adult.  The question is, why would you want to do that?  And, of course, it happens whether you want to or not.  You can choose your limitations and sacrifices or let it take you unaware when you are 30 or 40.

The lesson is: grow up.  Don’t be an old infant.  Pick your sacrifice and stop acting like a 10-year-old.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

21 thoughts on “Are You Like Peter Pan?

  1. Pooch T.

    Gen. Satterfield sure has an interesting, and deep, way to look at the symbolism of this story. We do need good people to look inside the simple story line to ferret out what the real meaning is and show us how that is important for our understanding.

    1. ZB22

      I agree with you Pooch. I loved the Disney movies of old (not so much the new movies that are woke). I’m now re-watching the old Disney classics. I will not watch their new stuff because they are sending us the wrong messages.

  2. Chuck USA

    Another great article by Gen. Satterfield, thank you sir.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Let’s not forget to buy Gen. Satterfield’s book. I know folks here are big fans, so get out and buy his book, leave a message on Amazon. Come on guys!!! Help out.

      1. Watson Bell

        Yes, let’s not. I ordered my copy just a few minutes ago.

  3. Liz at Home

    The entertainment value of Peter Pan as the movie (and old story) is interesting but it is the symbolism that jumps out at me. I went on the Internet and found a number of sites that deal with the symbolism but came away wanting. I think Gen. Satterfield has a better grasp of it than most.

  4. Max Foster

    The main character in the story, Peter Pan, is himself a symbol for eternal youth. He is the embodiment of the desire to never grow old and take on adult responsibilities. He transcends the inevitability of time by living in a dream world in which he is the leader of his own kingdom. The defining characteristic of Peter—the fact that he does not want to grow up, and that his top priority is staying without responsibility—is what makes him a symbol. Throughout the story, and in our culture in general, “Peter Pan” represents eternal youth.

    1. Doug Smith

      ….. And “why does Captain Hook fear the clock?” The crocodile symbolizes the fact that time is chasing after us and will, eventually, catch us in the end via the jaws of death.

      1. Tom Bushmaster

        Good comment supporting the main theme of this blog post. Gen. Satterfield sure is giving us something to think about. But the main lesson he states clearly, “grow up., adopt responsibility, learn to live with the fact you will die, do not fear.”

  5. Northeast

    I’ve got to say that I will never again look at the Peter Pan movie again after reading this article. I see another side of it that is a bit dark and also I see it as a warning for those who refuse to grow up and take on the adult roles required of us all. Scary in a way. But a subtle warning that should not be ignored.

    1. Army Captain

      Right, but what I find curious is that Peter Pan rejects Wendy. Why would that be. What is the symbolism of that? Fear of women? Hmmmm…..!@#$%^

  6. Harry Man

    Peter Pan is more than just a character in a well-known Disney movie. He symbolizes what can go wrong when you don’t grow up and adopt the responsibility required of you. ✔

      1. Dead Pool Guy

        These kind of comments are exactly why I read Gen. Satterfield’s leadership forum. Thanks all.

  7. Newbie in Seattle

    After reading this article, I certainly hope that I’m not like Peter Pan. Gen. Satterfield makes a persuasive case here.

    1. Goalie for Cal State

      After reading this, I can say that I know a lot of Peter Pans. It’s not a nice outcome for an adult. Of course, our society does not encourage adulthood but exactly the opposite.

    2. Audrey

      The crocodile that is on the hunt for Captain Hook has swallowed a clock, so whenever Hook hears the ticking of the clock, he knows that the crocodile (who is intent on eating him) is nearby. The ticking of the clock becomes a motif in the story, representing the passage of time, and the ways that Hook is being pursued by the inevitability of death.


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