In Marti’s favorite children’s story, Peter Pan (a children’s story albeit tinged with a good amount of adult psychology), George Darling, father of the three children who have been whisked away to Neverland, condemns himself to taking up residence in the kennel (the dog house), until the children come back. This is his self-inflicted punishment for having tied up the dog, Nana, while he and his wife were attending a party. His belief is that Nana would have prevented the children’s departure had she been allowed to babysit them as the children had requested.
J.M. Barrie, author of the original story describes Mr. Darling as “a simple man; indeed he might have passed for a boy again if he had been able to take his baldness off; but he had also a noble sense of justice and a lion’s courage to do what seemed right to him.”
What seems right to him is to stay in the dog house until the children return. I am not certain whether this is the origin of the phrase “in the dog house” for a man who is not in good standing with his wife, but it sure does create an indelible picture of living out one’s sentence in a manner certain to impress.
Being a man who does things to excess “otherwise he soon gave up doing it,” he sticks to his promise, even to the extent of traveling to work and home again by cab so he can remain in the kennel.
“Soon the inward meaning of [what he was doing] leaked out, and the great heart of the public was touched. Crowds followed the cab, cheering it lustily; charming girls scaled it to get his autograph; interviews appeared in the better class of papers, and society invited him to dinner and added, “Do come in the kennel.”
Though Mr. Darling’s sense of justice and courage to do what’s right could be applied to more important things in a less dramatic way, we can nevertheless admire his desire to take responsibility for his own actions and see that justice is done. I must say that more often than not, my tendency when accused is to defend myself, and that defense can take up so much of my attention that I fail to see where the wrong is in me. Justice is always more easily applied to others than it is to ourselves.
Maybe spending some time in the dog house isn’t such a bad idea. The only person you can really change is yourself, and that not without the Holy Spirit. Just don’t show up in the kennel; I’m not sure any of us needs that kind of attention!