James and the Giant Peach

by

Roald Dahl

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James and the Giant Peach: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
James looks around the room, terrified. The creatures look like insects, but insects are usually small—and these creatures are as big as a large dog. There’s an Old-Green-Grasshopper sitting on a stool, a giant Spider sitting next to him, and a Ladybug on her own chair. On a sofa sits a Centipede and an Earthworm, while a thick white something—maybe a Silkworm—sleeps on the floor. Each creature is at least James’s size and looks terrifying. Suddenly, the Spider announces that she’s hungry. The Old-Green-Grasshopper, the Ladybug, and the Centipede second this sentiment and stare right at James.
It’s relatively common for people to wary of bugs, especially bugs like spiders and centipedes. Thus, James’s fear seems reasonable—especially when the Spider reveals that she’s hungry and looks pointedly at James, suggesting that she is going to eat him. While James is frightened of the bugs, he also doesn’t try to make sense of how or why they’re so big. At this point, it’s more important to try to survive this ordeal than it is to ask questions.
Themes
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
After a moment, the Spider asks James if he’s hungry. James says nothing and the Centipede remarks that James looks ready to faint. The Ladybug says that James must think they want to eat him. All the bugs laugh and then, the Ladybug kindly says that James is one of them now. They’ve been waiting for him all day and they’re happy to see him. The Centipede tells James to cheer up and to help him get his boots off of his many feet.
The Ladybug and the Spider in particular make James feel like he shouldn’t have judged them. Rather than being frightening beasts who are far too large, these bugs are warm and polite—and they want to be friends with James. The Centipede’s boots add another level of absurdity to the situation, suggesting that in this world, anything can happen.
Themes
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon