That Place Between Sleep and Awake

February 15, 2013 § 11 Comments

I normally try not to address my WordPress Google search term users directly, because it could very well be interpreted as snark. Some do: take, for instance, Amy @ Lucy’s Football , who responds about once a month to the strangest search terms used to find her blog, and attempts to answer questions therein in hopes that whoever searched it once will search again, and find her answer. It’s hilarious, check it out.

I’ve thought about doing it before, but haven’t except now…one thing that is quite close to my heart keeps popping up, ALL THE TIME.

“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

Search terms used:

“Place between sleep and awake barrie quote”

“where in Peter Pan does it say place between sleep and awake”

“jm barrie place thats where ill always love you peter”

and on and on and on since the beginning of this blog.

And I have just one thing I’d like to say about these search terms: NO. NO NO NO NO no.

J.M. Barrie DID NOT write that quote, and it does not appear in Peter and Wendy, his novel. It does not appear in Peter Pan, or, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, his play. That quote, many of you readers know, is from Steven Spielberg’s film Hook, and is said by Tinker Bell (played by Julia Roberts) to a grown-up Peter Pan (played by Robin Williams) at the end of another great adventure.

Despite what ridiculously under-edited quote sites like this would have you think, that quote should not be attributed to J.M. Barrie, and the fact that it so often is infuriates the lit-snob in me to no end. I would assume that most people understand that a Victorian author with precise, clever, and occasionally whimsical word choice would never use the phrase “you know that place,” like someone telling you where to meet them for a hot dog, but then again, I have been wrong before.

Here are the facts, you searchers for truth:

1. Hook, which was released in 1991 (a much more suitable era for such parlance as “you know that place”), was written by James V. Hart, who went on to write a “prequel” novel about Hook as a boy, and Malia Scotch Marmo, who went on to adapt Crichton’s Jurassic Park for film. It was either Hart or Scotch-Marmo, then, who penned this quote that has my list of used search terms blowing up with Barrie.

2. Neither Peter Pan nor Tinker Bell, as characters in Barrie’s original works, would ever be so soppy as to say something like this. Although he can occasionally be heroic, Peter Pan is a vain, forgetful narcissist, who does actually like both Tinker Bell and Wendy very much, as long as they’re right in front of him. Barrie’s Peter Pan is a perpetual child, and children, as Barrie tells us, are heartless. They love and then they forget, and it is the wiser, more bruised adult heart that sees this forgetting, and aches appropriately. And Tinker Bell, in Barrie’s works, is a saucy, jealous little bitch who likes to pull Wendy’s hair. Even in the incident in which Tink drinks Peter’s poisoned medicine to save him, and he brings her back to life by clapping, their saving of one another doesn’t come with pronouncements of love. Neither one is emotionally mature to actually say how they feel, because that would imply that they understand how they feel. When Peter asks Tink why she drank his medicine to save him from the poison, she can’t say, “because I’ll always love you, Peter Pan.” Instead, she says “you silly ass,” and bites his nose. When Peter entreats the reader to clap with him, he is more proud of his success than he is relieved that Tink is alive and well. And then, he’s off “to rescue Wendy!”

Tink drinks the poison. Illustration by Trina Schart Hyman

Tink drinks the poison. Illustration by Trina Schart Hyman

3. Despite its effect on the misinformed populace, I like Hook very much. I’ve confessed this before on the Train, in my second post in a 2-part essay on Peter Pan. It doesn’t quite follow the book, for what we learn to be true at the end of Peter and Wendy, and what we are told is true in Hook are very different. One major example is that in the end of Peter and Wendy, we learn that Tinker Bell is (sorry, kids) dead, and thus it’s actually impossible for her to be in the sequel, set years later, after Peter has grown up to become Robin Williams.

Here’s Wendy returning to Neverland with Peter in the final chapter of Barrie’s novel, for a brief spring-cleaning time:

When she expressed a doubtful hope that Tinker Bell would be glad to see her, he said “Who is Tinker Bell?”

“O, Peter,” she said, shocked; but even when she explained he could not remember.

“There are such a lot of them,” he said. “I expect she is no more.”

I expect he was right, for fairies don’t live long, but they are so little that a short time seems a good while to them.

Although Hook doesn’t quite give us little these sucker-punches of forgetful woe, there are tributes made throughout the film to the kinds of small sadnesses that Barrie layered into his novel, which is why I’ll forgive them bringing Tink back to life for such a moment as Moira Darling (whom we’re supposed to believe is the daughter of Jane, Wendy’s child) saying quietly to Wendy, “I see them so often in my sleep, when I wake it’s as if they’re really there,” as she keeps watch in the nursery for her children to return, and then weeping aloud when they really are there in bed. And I do (I do) love that quote, “that place between sleep and awake,” and that moment of Tink alighting on the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. She says what all those who have a home in their hearts for Barrie’s strange, careless boy think when they turn the last page of the book–I will always love you, Peter Pan. Even if you’re a jerk.

The bottom line is this, searchers. Read the book. That quote is lovely, but the heartache and beauty that you’ll find in the pages of Peter and Wendy transcends any screenwriter’s interpretation. You’ll be surprised how much, as an adult, you’ll find to love in its pages, and you’ll end up with a treasure trove of even better quotes. And next time, you’ll know what you’re searching for.

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§ 11 Responses to That Place Between Sleep and Awake

  • Nadine says:

    Thank you so much for this post. This quote from Hook has been making the rounds on tumbr and it has annoyed the shit out of me that people think it’s J.M. Barrie’s.
    It’s a lovely quote, sure, but sometimes it really wouldn’t hurt just to read the book.

  • heyzag says:

    Thank you for clearing it up. I had no idea the Peter Pan story and movies were so bittersweet…such love stories. I think I will immediately watch and read the story at this point…I am now more than intrigued! Thank you!

  • Meta says:

    Thank you for the answer! 🙂 Perhaps I am naive, but these searching terms seem to me as people already doubting the source and trying to check out – as I did (and found this post with a similar term) when a friend shared the quote with a smiley on facebook and with “Peter Pan” as source: I commented that this was said by Tinker Bell in Hook and is actually a very sad thing, then got the answer that it was said by Peter in the book. I tried to find the full text of the book searchable online to prove this being false, as I could not be sure without that (although I have read the book, but only once, in English, which isn’t my first language), and could say only that it isn’t fitting Peter’s character in the book at all.

  • Lori says:

    Ah, Steven…

    I do love the quote though.

  • Elizabeth Conley says:

    the script for “Hook” was adapted from the book written by Peter Brooks and I believe he work on if not wrote thr screen play also.
    a “believer”

    • crfricke says:

      Hi Elizabeth-
      I think you mean the book written by Terry Brooks, which was a novelization of the Spielberg film, published afterwards. It’s been praised for including some scenes that weren’t in the film and being a great stand-alone read, but it seems to be out of print these days.
      Thanks for reading!

  • Joana says:

    Thanks for this post!
    I have a little question, do you know where is say the quote “so come with me where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think on happy things and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Neverland” ?

    • crfricke says:

      Hi Joana,
      Thanks for reading! The line you asked about is a lyric from the 1954 musical (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Pan_%281954_musical%29). It does not appear in the Barrie novel. That musical was recently performed as Peter Pan Live! on NBC starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken, but if you’re interested, you should check out the 1960 telecast (which was also done on NBC) with Mary Martin in the starring role. I think you can find a great deal of it on YouTube.

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you!!! I’ve been seeing this quote attributed to Peter Pan. It’s been a while since I’ve read the book, but it seemed too out of character for Peter. Thankfully, a quick Google search led me here.

    There is another quote I can’t quite place. One about not sending little boys to bed because when they wake, they are a day older. I don’t recall that from the book either. The best I can find is that it’s possibly a quote from the movie Finding Neverland? Do you know if that’s the true origin?

    My son loves Peter Pan, so I’ve been trying to find a good quote to hang on his wall.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you!! I loved that quote and was disappointed when I finished the book and it wasn’t in there. Glad to know the truth.

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