So I've been wandering around all day trying to figure it out...and it's not happening.
In Little Women the scene that gets to me is right at the end. Through the whole opera Jo has been trying to hang on to the way things were growing up. She doesn't want anyone to change, or grow up, or move away. Meg sings "things change, Jo" when she marries John Brooke. Beth sings the same thing when she's dying. Finally, Jo understands when Aunt March sings about her dusty old house, where there is no love, no affection, but everything stays "perfect as they are." And then Jo goes back to her house and sees her sisters as they were, all four, young and happy. And Jo finally is able to sing that she "understands now. You love me. Things end." And she finally is able to let them go. (That was a whole box of kleenex there.)
In "Lord of the Rings" it's at the end. The world is saved. Everyone goes back to the way things were. Sam gets married, Pip and Merry are roaming around with their new found celebrity. Frodo, the real hero, is practically forgotten. And in the end, he has to leave. Tolkien writes that the saving of middle earth involved a sacrifice. The era of men has begun. The elves must leave. And so must Frodo. He has changed too much to fit in there any longer. Sam sees Frodo off, and then goes home. Life goes on. But not the same.
And Peter Pan. The adventure is over. Wendy must grow up. She realises that never growing up means she can never experience "the greatest adventure of all." And so she goes home. And grows up. And Peter cannot come. "Peter Pan had countless joys that no other children do, but he was looking upon the one joy he could never have."
Maybe it's the lack of "they all lived happily ever after." Maybe they did, but in order to have one thing, another must be given up. Things change. Nothing can ever stay just as it was.
Anyway, that's my ramblings for today... thanks for listening... I'm going to go read Peter Pan now. And, really, read "Peter Pan and the Starcatchers." It was quite good.