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Smee is Captain Hook's right-hand man in J..M. Barrie's play "Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up" (1904) and the novel "Peter and Wendy" (1911). He seems an oddly genial man for a pirate ; Barrie describes him as "Irish" and "a man who stabbed without offence" – and is shown in the multiple pantomimes  or movies of Peter Pan as a rather stupidly entertaining man interested in loot rather than Hook's more evil pleasures. Smee typically represents a humourous side to pirating, often portrayed as a portly man with a bulbous nose and red cheeks, but J.M. Barrie has hinted at a darker side. There is some, admittedly sparse, evidence that he has been 'sourcing' women from Neverland for his own ends. This is most tangibly expressed in the film "Hook" (1991), where a Smee, played by Bob Hoskins, is apparently popular with the adult women of Neverland, but with a clear sense of fear present in their 'adoration'.

Like the other men of Neverland, Smee is ignorant of what a mother is. Early on, Wendy considers that if she were to have a pirate for a pet, she would choose Smee. When captured by Hook, every child in the brig  loves Smee - he cannot lay a fist on them and does their darning - despite his belief that they fear him. Hook contemplates that Smee has good form without knowing it, which is of course the best form of all. He almost tears into Smee for this but knows that clawing a man for having good form is very bad form. In Disney's "Peter Pan" (1953), when Smee tells Hook that shooting a man in the middle of his cadenza isn't good form, Hook replies with "Good form, Mr. Smee? Blast good form! Did Pan show good form when he did this to me?" in which he refers to the time Peter Pan cut his hand off and threw it to the crocodile. Smee offers to save Wendy from the plank, if only she promises to be his mother - an offer she refuses, J. M. Barrie using the words, "Not even for Smee".

Smee's position on the Jolly Roger is presented inconsistently. In Peter and Wendy he is identified as the ship's "bo'sun", a boatswain. While the word initially had the meaning of "retainer" or "servant", as an officer rank it means a petty officer who supervises the work of other seamen and is in charge of all work on deck. In most Disney storybooks Smee is said to be first mate, the position held by Starkey in the novel. A first mate is responsible to the captain for the safety and security of the ship. Responsibilities include the crew's welfare and training in areas such as safety, firefighting, search and rescue. In merchant ships the first mate is also responsible for the cargo during a voyage. A few stories demote him to the cook, although in the Disney film Smee refers to both the first mate and the cook in the third person. Indicating someone else held those roles. Whatever his exact position Smeeconsistently acts as Captain Hook's "left hand man" , though his degree of personal loyalty to his Captain varies on depiction.

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