A Monster Calls and Finding Neverland Comparison / by Academy Monthly

This sculptural representation of Mum and Sylvia Llewlyn Davies, the mothers in A Monster Calls and Finding Neverland respectively, illuminates the hopeful vision of death that the children in each story were able to embrace. The image of Conor’s mother kneeling into a pond of darkness stands alongside the mother of Peter, Jack, George, and Michael flying through the windows to Neverland, leaving their world for a better place. I chose to create angelic figures dressed in airy white and gold fabric to suggest the way the children may have seen their mothers disappear. The black cliff, representing the darkness of death, juxtaposes the imagery of peace radiating from the figures. The piece illustrates the death of each mother through the eyes of the children in a way that allowed each to process the painful experience of loss. The clear rods represent the way the children imagined the trajectory of a path to another world, to a better place. All the children came to see death as beautiful, freeing, and magical and in turn were able to heal.

Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls parallels the story of the Broadway production of Finding Neverland through the relationships between mothers and children. In each story, the mother figure dies from cancer and the children have to learn to move on and heal. The tales told by the Monster and J.M. Barrie in each story allow the kids to believe that they will be able to heal from the loss they experience and guide the children to view death as a peaceful freedom.

In Finding Neverland, the children see their mother leaving into a space created by J.M. Barrie “where life is eternal and evergreen, a future of happiness all in your hands, here in this place of your dreams, here inside Neverland” (Neverland). In A Monster Calls, Conor is able to let his mother go when he sees her on the cliff’s edge. She “had her back to him, but she was looking over her shoulder, smiling. She looked as weak as she had in the hospital, but she gave him a small wave” (Ness, 174). In both of these moments, the children are able to realize that their mothers are going to a better place. Freedom associated with the figures reflects the way the stories help the children see their mothers becoming free from the world.

“When your feet don’t touch the ground, when your world’s turned upside down, here its safe, in this place, above the clouds… when your feet don't touch the earth, you won't feel the things that hurt, and your free, there’s no need to come down… keep your faith, and in time, you will spread your wings and fly…” (When Your Feet Don’t Touch the Ground).