Neverland is supposed to be the land of eternal childhood, a place where children can go if they want to stay children forever. This is true for all children except one: Wendy. In his tale, Barrie creates Wendy to be a loving girl who is always eager to help with her brothers. Her eagerness to help, however, can be a bad quality as well as a good one. Wendy has a very maternal personality and she can’t wait to grow-up, have children, and be like her mother. Ironically, Wendy chooses to go to Neverland because it offers her a chance to grow-up instead of staying a child.
Wendy’s desire to grow-up first becomes evident in the way Peter convinces her to come to Neverland. For John and Michael, talk of pirates, redskins, and adventure is enough to lure them away, but Wendy needs something more. Although she is intrigued and excited by the idea of meeting a mermaid, Peter really convinces her to come when he says slyly, “You could tuck us in at night…and darn our clothes and make pockets for us.”(28) Wendy loves the idea of becoming a mother to the boys and getting to take care of them. She loves the responsibility and importance it gives her. However, she does briefly rethink her decision once she gets to Neverland. Upon her arrival, the boys build her a house and ask Wendy to be their mother. She answers, “Of course it’s frightfully fascinating, but you see I am only a little girl. I have no real experience.” (62) This quote shows that Wendy reconsiders becoming mother to the lost boys because she is only a young girl herself. Again, it is Peter, who convinces her by saying that they really only need a mothering type and they knew she would be a good one.
By becoming a mother to the boys Wendy forfeits her own innocence and childhood. Peter and the boys have many marvelous adventures, but Wendy can’t participate because, “Those rambunctious boys of hers gave her so much to do.” (67) Instead of enjoying being a child, Wendy is stuck inside doing housework and trying to keep everything just so while taking care of all of the boys. At first Wendy enjoys these tasks and the grown-up feelings of importance and responsibility that accompany them. Sometimes, smiling “she would fling up her arms and exclaim, ‘Oh dear, I am sure I sometimes think spinsters are to be envied.’” (67), because it made her feel like a real mother.
After a while though, pretending to be a mother and a housewife ceases to be a game. Wendy loses the childlike pretention because she is trying too hard to be the perfect housewife and begins to half believe that their Neverland family is real. She refers to Peter as “Father” and refuses to let Michael sleep with the big boys saying “I must have somebody in a cradle…a cradle is such a nice homely thing to have about a house.”(93) This shows her insistence on making their house as real as possible. She also begins to wish that the kids really belonged to her and Peter and confuses Peter’s feelings for her. She asks “Peter…what are your exact feelings to me?”(94) and is let down when Peter replies, “Those of a devoted son, Wendy.”(94) In her excitement to grow-up, Wendy has taken their game far too seriously for a young girl and becomes upset when Peter doesn’t feel the same way she does about their “family.”
Wendy does not fully realize that she has lost her childhood until she gains it back once she returns home. Before leaving, Peter tries to convince her to come back with him and be his mother again. “But he does so need a mother,” (151) Wendy argues with her mother, “So do you, my love,”(151) her mother responds. This reminds Wendy she is still a child herself and that she will grow up soon enough without having to run off to Neverland.