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Discuss the depiction of the family in either Act 1.1 or Act 4.1 of Peter Pan and any two poems for children from 100 Best Poems for Children. What versions of the family are being explored and celebrated; conversely, what anxieties are being expressed?

This question demands a discussion on the family as seen in Peter Pan and two poems of my choice.   I have opted to concentrate on Act 4:1 of Peter Pan and have chosen as my poems Wha Me Mudder Do by Grace Nichols and If you don’t put your shoes on before I count Fifteen by Michael Rosen.   My intention is to look at each in three ways.   Firstly I shall look at the pieces to illustrate how they show different or similar ideas about family.   Secondly, I shall look at how they explore and/or celebrate ideas about the family and I shall finally concentrate on similar and/or different anxieties expressed within the three pieces.

We first need to realise that these works were written in different eras, and in the case of the Nichol’s poem, about a different culture.   Peter Pan was written during the First Golden Age of children’s literature and, as such, reflects the Victorian views of the day; fathers were the breadwinners and mothers stayed at home to oversee the up-bringing of the children.   If we look at Act 4:1, we can see this mirrored in the role-play undertaken by the lost boys, Wendy and her brothers.   Wendy is enforcing the household rules, such as ‘hands-off-the-table’ and ‘no-two-to-speak-at-once’ (Peter Pan Page 126-127, lines 35, 36) and feeding the ‘family’, whilst Peter is out hunting, that is, being the provider. It is also noted in the stage directions that Wendy has made everyone’s clothes herself, another task expected at the time to be carried out by the mother of the family, as was seen with the March family in Little Women.   As the action begins it is soon established that Wendy is now ‘mother’.   Nibs calls her Mummy, and when John asks if he can sit in Peter’s chair, Wendy replies that that...

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