Peter’s Shadow: The Untold Truth

I have been beyond bored over the course of this nine hour drive from El Paso to Pueblo. I’ve been experiencing the type of boredom of which I’m sure we are all familiar; I begin one activity to keep myself entertained, but then quickly flutter to another and then another, unable to find prolonged interest in any of them.

But during this interminable span of minimal neuron activity, I have had a few decent moments of insight and/or realization. Right now I am going to share my revelation about Peter Pan!

When Peter Pan loses his shadow in the Disney cartoon (I’ve never read the book, but I’m going to pretend like he loses it then, too) he is trying to reattach it to himself because it is one of the few commonalities he shares with normal humans, and it is very important for him to have it in order to remind himself of his own mortality outside of Neverland.

Keeping his shadow attached to him is important, because his life in Neverland is so unreal. Think about it: Peter is a boy who decided to leave the normal world and live perpetually young in Neverland. He is surrounded by enchanted creatures that the real world deems “fictitious” and he can fly, all on his own, which is humanly impossible according to the laws of Physics. He clearly has many reasons to become detached from his old, mortal life, and really, from reality altogether. But he cannot avoid longing to preserve a bit of who he is, and one of the things he can identify as being exclusively him is his shadow. His shadow reminds him that yes, he still does exist. He can look at it and declare,

“Hey! There’s my shadow! Created by my opaque body blocking light rays! Evidence of a tangible object interacting with the universe! I must exist!”

My argument in short: without his shadow, Peter Pan cannot truly prove to himself that he still exists.

I am convinced that his quest to retrieve his shadow is more serious than the game of “cat-and-mouse” Disney made it out to be in the movie. Analyzing Peter’s character, I can confidently make this inference.

If somehow, the laws of science were broken and my shadow dissappeared (and I still existed), I wouldn’t be upset. If anything, I’d be happy because not having a shadow would mean I could never lose in shadow tag (or win either, I suppose)! I’m just kidding, but I don’t think it would be something I’d miss, or even notice at first. For Peter, it is much more. He keeps tabs on his shadow, because it serves as the bridge between fantasy and reality. He needs his shadow around to fulfill that sense of “self” we all are searching for as humans.

Okay, maybe that was a tad far-fetched…but hey, a nine hour drive will do that to you!


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