At one point or another, we all realize our heroes are not what we once thought.

Namine loves fairies. She adores them. When we painted her room, she asked for three things: the moon, Batman, and fairies.

Of course, Namine has seen Disney’s Peter Pan, in which Tinker Bell features prominently. And then you’ve got all the Disney Fairy movies, starring (who else) Tinker Bell and the other fairies in Neverland.

Never having read Peter Pan myself, it seemed like the natural progression to read the book to Namine. I was a little shocked at how bluntly and plainly Peter talks about killing pirates. If Namine was, she didn’t show it — although she expressed her dislike of how selfishly Peter acted early on. He was more selfish and mean, not to mention less playful and fun, than Disney’s movie portrays.

None of this, however, distressed Namine. She recognized that sad truth: the movie is always different than the book. In this case, she preferred the movie. But up until Peter and the Darling siblings reached Neverland, Tink had not yet gotten her exposition.

The first look inside Tink’s mind was during her fit of jealousy, and as the book describes it, “Wendy’s doom”:

Tink… began to lure Wendy to her destruction.
Tink was not all bad; or, rather, she was all bad just now, but, on the other hand, sometimes she was all good… At present she was full of jealousy of Wendy…
Wendy did not yet know that Tink hated her with the fierce hatred of a very woman. And so… she followed Tink to her doom.

Excerpt from Peter Pan, Chapter 4: The Flight

As I was reading, Namine started crying. That was the end of the chapter, so we stopped there, but Namine wouldn’t have wanted to keep going either way.

When she had calmed down, Namine explained herself. She hadn’t been scared for Wendy; she was sad. She had not expected for Tinker Bell to behave so hatefully; it was not at all in line with the character she’d seen in movie after movie, and the difference surprised and shocked her.

I know this feeling. Namine does not yet have the vocabulary to express it, but I do, though I’ve more often experienced it in reverse — from book to movie, instead of movie to book. A character whom you love, whom you’ve come to feel as if you know their very heart, is gutted. They are a shell of the character you know, changed in some unknowable way. It’s a deep hurt, an unmatched emotional pain. The stories are fiction, but their emotions are all too real.

That Namine experienced this for the first time saddens me — and I never would have guessed that it would happen with Tinker Bell, of all characters. But life on this earth is punctuated by pain; we can accept it and move on, or not.

I left it up to Namine: continue reading Peter Pan, or leave it and start another book. She is a lover of stories, though, and she wants to see this through to the end. She has chosen to continue on, accepting — though perhaps not liking — that this Tink is not the same character as Disney portrays.

I am very proud of her for meeting the challenge and rising above it.

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