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Tiger Lily [Jun. 15th, 2006|10:50 pm]
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Wow... I think the last post was over a year ago.

My name is Emily, first read the book when I was 17, saw the musical with Cathy Rigby after I read the book, watched the Disney film, and I just wrote my senior paper on Tiger Lily and the changing role of the Indians, from the book, the Disney film, the Jerome Robbins' musical, and the 2003 film.

Here's a question for you:

Why is Tiger Lily the ignored/forgotten character?

Tiger Lily has very few fanfics written about her, but it can easily be argued that she is a stronger female character than Wendy. She's a warrior in the book and musical, heck, she boarded the Jolly Roger alone with a knife, ready to attack the crew.

However, it is important that he makes Tiger Lily, a woman, the leader of the group. She is compared to the Roman Goddess Diana (the Greek Goddess Artemis), a desirable woman who was in touch with nature, independent, and equally dangerous as her brother Apollo, in Tiger Lily’s case, just as dangerous as her male followers. One has to question why Tiger Lily is so powerful when her men, in other brief instances seem so weak. During a fight between the Indians and the Lost Boys at Slightly Gulch, Peter grew bored and declared, “I’m redskin today.” All the other boys follow suit, but instead of the fight ending, the Indians declare themselves “Lost Boys” and the battle continues (111). Instead of the Indians acting like adults and letting the battle end, they played along with Peter and kept fighting, a very childish act. Later on there is “ … the night attack of the redskins on the house under ground, when several of them stuck in the hollow trees and had to be pulled out like corks” (112). It is a funny image of grown men having to be pulled out from the trees like corks, and with that scene and the fight at Slightly Gulch, the Indians are comical and not to be taken seriously. However, Tiger Lily is not mentioned in either, presumably not involved, and is superior to her men by not taking part in skirmishes so foolish.

Tiger Lily is a strong female character, something that is usually lost in different interpretations of Peter Pan. What Barrie writes about Tiger Lily being placed on Marooner’s Rock is left out in many versions of the story: Tiger Lily was captured by pirates because she was caught boarding the pirate ship armed with a knife (118). At first glance it may not seem important because the scene continues with her, bound and arriving at Marooner’s Rock, but it is a courageous act to board the pirate ship and attack those onboard by oneself, and made even more remarkable that a woman tried. Sadly, the relevance of that act is downplayed by her capture. Her hands and feet are bound, and she is too proud to vainly fight back. It is part of a “code of honor” where “she was the daughter of a chief; she must die as the daughter of a chief.”
{...} Peter does not see Tiger Lily as a damsel-in-distress; he merely views the scene as an unfair fight. Tiger Lily knows it is useless to fight against the pirates now and is prepared to die, but when her bonds are cut she moves “like an eel,” further animal description, and escapes.

Tiger Lily’s role, however, changes at the gala after Peter returns from fighting Hook at Marooner’s Rock. He is praised and given the title “Great White Father” by the Indians, who proceed to grovel over him and vow to protect him, but they are rude to the Lost Boys, implying that, if given the chance, they would prefer to battle again. This is further implied with the Tiger Lily’s fawning over Peter, “‘The Great White Father… is glad to see the Piccaninny warriors protecting his wigwam from pirates.’‘Me Tiger Lily,’ that lovely creature would reply, ‘Peter Pan save me, me his velly [sic] nice friend. Me not let pirates hurt him.’ She was far too pretty to cringe in this way” (139). Barrie believes that Tiger Lily should not be acting in this way, especially after the silent pride and calm she displayed earlier when she was facing death. Calling Peter “The Great White Father” is extremely derogatory, and leaves people to wonder why the Indians want to obey Peter. Also, in Tiger Lily’s reply her pronunciation of “very” indicates an Asian accent, and the author not distinguishing the difference between American Indians and Asians in society, assuming that minorities all praise the “great white father” but it is unnatural to do so. Tiger Lily’s awkward praise of Peter continues with a conversation between Peter Pan and Wendy Darling. “‘There is something she wants me to be, but she says it is not my mother.’ ‘No, indeed it is not,’ Wendy replied with frightful emphasis. Now we know why she is prejudiced against the redskins (145).” Why is Tiger Lily so interested in praising the “Great White Father,” an egotistical little boy? Tiger Lily is known to avoid marriage by threats with her hatchet. She is now in competition with Wendy for Peter’s attention, but with her end at the battle between the pirates and Indians, she is in every essence, a warrior first, and a lover second.

...Any mention of the massacre ends, without any phrase confirming Tiger Lily’s death or possible survival. Barrie initially creates a strong female character, almost breaks her down into a love interest, and does not mention her after her supposed death. He, instead, either mentions the death of a minor character, Panther, or names newly introduced characters that die, Lean Wolf, and the pirates Alf Mason, Charles Turley, and George Scourie (164). At the most prominent defeat of the Indians against the predominately white pirates, Barrie does not write an ending for Tiger Lily, she is forgotten...

So, for anybody else out there... what are your views on Tiger Lily?

[User Picture]From: demondoll2001
2006-06-16 04:49 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting!!!! :-)

I agree with you on all of this. Yeah, it always seemed very strange that Tiger Lily would call Peter "the great white father"...LOL....I think Barrie held typical British notions--and thought of the Native Americans as savages (people who are childish, and not as civilized as Europeans, etc.)

Tiger Lily was probably just meant to be a "stereotypical" character. She was only supposed to be *weak* competition. Her role just pretty much let's us understand that Wendy wants Peter as a "lover/boyfriend/husband" and that she gets jealous of other women like Tiger Lily hitting on him.

I think I will make a post introducing myself at some point. :-)
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[User Picture]From: broadwaypoetez
2006-06-16 05:58 pm (UTC)
But how stereotypical is she? How many stories during that time had sexy female warriors, especially in a children's book? (Unless Barrie wrote her that way to amuse the fathers reading the book to their children.)

I just think the whole idea of her fawning over Peter is strange. Why else would Barrie say "She was far too pretty to cringe in this way"?

That's why I... disagree with the Disney interpretation. She's just the silly little dumb Indian princess that was captured and wants to be Peter's lover, and that's the Tiger Lily that most people think of.

You should've seen the look on my face when I read the book and found out just how tough Tiger Lily was, but I wanted to smack her during the "Me Tiger Lily..." part. Seriously... "she staves off the altar with a hatchet (77-78)" that's basically a cleaned up way of saying "make me your wife, treat me as something less than a warrior, and I emasculate you" so why try to attract "the Great White Father" who's probably has the appearance of someone ages 7-12? Tiger Lily, in my view, is older, possibly 14-16. Why not go for Panther or Wolf? They respect her, they follow her.
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[User Picture]From: demondoll2001
2006-06-18 04:40 am (UTC)
Well, I think that sexy native women were not uncommon in the Pirate/Adventure stories of that time. Barrie was a HUGE fan of that type of literature when he was growing up. The stories usually went like this..."European Explorer/Adventurer finds himself in the farthest corners of civilization, he fights off the natives, during which time a sexy native woman falls in love with him, he has a brief relationship with her, which ends of course (because he can't marry a non-white woman and take her back to England)....he later rescues a European woman who he ends up marrying...etc."

That was a common theme.

Why does she look up to Peter? Well, first of all because he's a "white man". Secondly, he is a better warrior than she is. Female warriors like Amazons usually fell in love with the man who was a superior warrior than them. (Check out the Greek myths about the Amazon queen and you'll know what I mean.)

Anyway, thanks for posting! TTYL
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[User Picture]From: padaviya
2006-07-12 11:01 pm (UTC)
Interesting topic ...

Maybe it's fitting that Tiger Lilly is forgotten in the story. Just like the tradition of one actor playing both Hook and Mr. Darling, it's also tradition for the same actress to play Mrs. Darling and Tiger Lilly (and the play was written and performed before the book was published).

At the end of the book, Barrie says something to the extent of "she was dead and forgotten", referring to Mrs. Darling, and during the book, the children forget their mother. Maybe Tiger Lilly is meant to be an allegory.

I suspect though, that Barrie just wasn't good with female characters. He seems to give them only two roles: mother (Wendy, Mrs. Darling) or lover (Wendy, Tiger Lilly, the mermaids, Tink).

It might also have to do with us - in all of our adaptations, we emphasize the adventures with the pirates, not the Indians. Maybe the Indians aren't as fun to see, maybe we're embarassed about the way they're depicted, maybe it's just hard to take them seriously (like in the Disney version).
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[User Picture]From: collectingbees
2010-11-01 07:41 am (UTC)
I know this is hella ancient, but I want to upload and link my own Native perspective on Tiger Lily and add it to this conversation. I really do love her and how fierce she is, and haven likened her to Éponine-meets Coyote-meets Brer Rabbit in my meta-writings on the subject.
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[User Picture]From: broadwaypoetez
2010-11-02 03:50 am (UTC)
Ahh, that would be awesome!

(I'm a 22 year old Pan nerd now who totally wants some fun stuff to read when not at work!)
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[User Picture]From: collectingbees
2010-11-02 08:30 pm (UTC)
I have been meaning to re-write it in preparation for my Les Misérables AU spoof of Westerns "How the West Was Misérable," because Éponine is a Tiger Lily-inspired Coyote/Brer Rabbit character.

I mean, save the "What Made the Red Man Red" DISASTER, I really do like the Disney version of Peter Pan quite a bit. I really do not like the Tiger Lily of Disney's version (or most theatrical versions, really-"Ugga wugga wigwam?" Are you KIDDING me??"
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[User Picture]From: broadwaypoetez
2010-11-02 08:45 pm (UTC)
I think I tried to argue in the rest of that essay (waaay back in highschool) that the musical was good because she's still a warrior and survives at the end, opposed to most adaptations where it's like "Hai... it's Tiger Lily, and now she's gone for the rest of the film."
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