“Peter Pan Syndrome” or Psychological Therapy: Fairy Tales and Self-Maturity in Joy Kogawa’s Obasan



Fairy tale as a special literary genre is gaining much attention in recent decades. Apart from serving as a popular material for postmodern rewriting, it also can be interpreted from the perspective of children’s psychological development. In Joy Kogawa’s novel Obasan, Naomi, a silence Japanese Canadian girl exiled during WWII, is constantly intoxicated in fairy tales and folklores like Momotaro, Peter Rabbit, Snow White, Goldilocks, and Three bear and other stories. By re-narrating the relentless world as a little fairy tale-teller, she once attempted to evade in the imagery bubble when encountering sexual molestation, vicious racial discrimination, identity conundrum and traumatic experiences of evacuation from coastal Vancouver to ghost town Slocan and Baker farm Graton during the WWII. Nevertheless, in each story Naomi absorbs the nutrition from imagination as an alternate facet of reality and experiences self-maturity. Therefore, whether the fairy tale serves as an unrealistic utopia for the escapist “Peter Panner”, or a dose of therapeutic potion to sooth her anxieties and despair rooted in the historical hardships is open to investigating.


Japanese Canadian; World War II; Evacuation; Fairy tales; Psychological maturity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/11220


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