As a child, my parents never read this story to me. My first time reading it was this past week. Reading it as an adult, it was clear to see the messages being delivered through the story. The notion of obedience, and listening to your parents, as they always know best, ran rather transparently throughout the tale. However, I found myself siding more so with Peter. Acting as the protagonist, I found myself routing for him the entire way, while I saw his siblings as goody two shoes who were merely doing as they were told, rather than adventuring and making their own way. They weren’t adventurous or bold enough to warrant my attention. The stories I tend to gravitate towards are those told about the bold. The ones who go against the grain and buck the system.
Today in class, when we spoke about who each character represents, I couldn’t help but think of Mr. McGregor as representing ‘the man.” To me, he represented some kind of authoritative agent who sought to suppress adventure and creativity. Seeing as Beatrice Potter was someone who went against social norms and the wishes of her mother, I saw her being portrayed through Peter Rabbit, and all those who told her what she was doing wasn’t right being portrayed by Mr. McGregor. In the end everything turned out alright for Peter (and Beatrice) as Mr. McGregor (societal expectations and constraints) failed to capture and kill him.
After reading it, I wouldn’t be surprised if my parents chose to exclude this from our late night reading on purpose, as I was a child who had already begun expressing an aversion to authority. I think they knew I would’ve sided with Peter Rabbit, and admired his expression of individuality.