P.L. Travers in 'Saving Mr. Banks': What she hates and why

1) The color red. You notice her extreme request to Walt Disney that red not be used in the film “Mary Poppins.” This request is made partly to test Disney and partly because she detests the color. When Travers’s aunt came to save Travers Goff, she brought bright red flowers out of her magical bag. Red therefore reminds her of a tough time for her family. Strike one for red. Secondly, and more importantly, Travers does not like the color because it reminds her of the blood her father coughed up when he was sick with tuberculosis.

2) Travers puts up a fight over the word “responstible,” leaving the song writers in a bind as they hadn’t yet show her the song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Made up words remind Travers of her father and the fun they used to have. Now she is more practical and thus detests things made up.

3) Whimsy. Travers cannot stand it. Her father lived and thrived on imagination, but was an alcoholic who couldn’t hold onto a job and who died young, Whimsy brings back painful memories of her father, which she would rather not remember. Plus, Travers prefers the truth because that’s what her Aunt a.k.a. Mary Poppins taught her. 

4) Pears. Travers Goff gifted pears to his wife and daugthers. It was his favorite fruit. When Goff is on his death bed, he asks P.L. Travers (then Helen Goff) for some pears. On her way to get the pears, her father dies and she never gets the chance to say goodbye. Because of the pears, Travers missed the final moments of her father’s life and therefore detests the fruit.

5) When one of Disney’s secretaries carts in trolleys full of sweets, Travers snaps and asks her to take them away, asking instead for healthier options, like broth. Travers dislikes sweets and goodies because they remind her of ice cream day, when she witnessed her father get fired and then use his daughter to get his job back at the bank. Treats remind her of her father’s careless ways and incapability to hold down a job.

6) Sunny days. Beautiful days remind her of the weather of Australia, where she grew up and had many fond memories with her father, like the day she rode a horse with him. When the limo driver speaks of his love for sunny days, Travers scoffs, saying she prefers rainy weather because it brings life.

7) Extravagance. Travers won’t tolerate extravagance in the film adaptation of “Mary Poppins” because the book is based on her family. Travers’s family wasn’t rich, so she doesn’t want that for the Banks family.

8) Facial hair. Travers has a conversation with her father about shaving one day. Her father was always clean-shaven because, as he would say, “a man must shave for despair his daughter’s cheeks.” Her father was clean-shaven so she wanted Mr. Banks to be clean-shaven. 

9) Bars. During her stay in Los Angeles, Travers makes a point of avoiding the bar almost every day – though she does go to the bar one day for a pot of tea. She dislikes bars because her father was an alcoholic. Bars also bring back memories of the fair where she saw her father drinking in the bar tent before his speech. Because he was drunk, Goff made a fool of himself and fell off the stage.

10) Mr. Banks cast as evil. Mr. Banks is Travers Goff, P.L. Travers’s father. Travers idolized her father. She even changed her last name to his first name in memory of him. Even though her father made mistakes with his life, she didn’t want him portrayed as evil in the movie.

11) Giving up Mary Poppins. “Mary Poppins” was based on Travers’s family. She had difficulty relinquishing the rights to the book because it was held so dear to her heart.

12) Money. Money is the root of all evil for Travers. She even calls it “a filthy word.” Travers views money as the reason for her father’s demise. The bank worked him to the bone and drove him to drink. Her father was always concerned with making money to support his family, which led to more drinking. Money destroyed her father, and therefore she doesn’t care for it. Money is also the reason she had to go to Walt Disney for aid. If she didn’t have money from Disney’s movie, she would have lost her home.