The main theme of the book is an exploration of the intimate emotional relationship of the narrator, a childless Victorian era retired soldier and London bachelor, with a young boy born to a working-class married couple in the same neighbourhood. The narrator secretly assists the couple financially, while meeting with the young boy in various "adventures", presented in a disjointed series of episodes in the book in which the narrator seeks to find a feeling of closeness with the boy, expressed as a desire for fatherhood, as well as other less clearly defined ideas. Peter Hollindale, professor of English and Education Studies at the University of York (retired, 1999), has written extensively about James Barrie and the Peter Pan stories. He states that while modern psychology enables readers to find hints of various abnormalities in the story, it also remains "strangely innocent and asexual".
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