Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lost Girls: Wendy Darling I

continued from 17th October 2008 (sorry for delay...)

One day while playing in the park, sixteen-year-old Wendy Darling and her younger brothers John and Michael spy a young boy and girl having sex in the bushes. As the boy comes, his eyes fix upon Wendy. Later that night, the same boy climbs through their bedroom window. I hardly have to tell you his name is Peter.

When Peter comes to the Darling children’s bedroom, Moore makes it clear that Peter’s desires are fixed primarily on Wendy. As Peter initiates her brothers into the 'games' he and his friends play, Wendy watches in fascinated, horrified silence. Eventually Peter guides her into mutual masturbation before finally having sex with her in front of her brothers. As Wendy recounts this tale to Dorothy and Alice, everything she writes is qualified with an apology.

First, she apportions blame on Peter, focusing on his coercion of her: “Then Peter smiled and everything seemed all right, as if we both knew that this was only a harmless game.” As Wendy’s story progresses, she distances herself from her own experiences by placing it in the realm of fantasy or dream.

He…he put his hand between my…o-on my private parts, and…and then nothing seemed quite real anymore. I didn’t believe it was happening.”

Shamed by her own behaviour, Wendy asks her audience; “Oh, how could I?”, Peter’s seduction of her treading a fine, and at times uneasy, line between persuasion and exploitation. However, as Peter brings her to orgasm, her shock is replaced by momentary bliss, and a sort of bittersweet sadness:

“I realized that I was…moving myself against his hand, then everything in me seemed to burst and there was such joy. Such perfect joy…

Afterwards came a quiet dreamy time. He told us to visit him in the spinney, but that we must never, never tell anyone. He then left us, through the window, but in my dreams he took us all with him, out over London, up into the sky, like a wish…and that’s how both my real adventures and my dream adventures began: with a vision of flying.

And everyone knows how we’re meant to interpret flying...

If we read Wendy’s account of her tales as pure fantasy, we can see her conflicting feelings of elation and guilt around her sexual fulfilment, matched with her latent, unsettling interest in, and desire for, her brothers. Peter’s insistence to the Darling children that they keep their adventures a secret can either be read as an actual instruction, or a restriction she places on herself to keep her sexual desires secret. Either way, both of these interpretations reinforce her experiences with Peter as private and sacred but also potentially threatening and dangerous. There is, of course, another more upsetting explanation; that Wendy is recounting the first instance of sexual abuse.


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