James and the Giant Peach


Roald Dahl

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James and the Giant Peach: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

As the group finishes their meal, the Centipede points to a “funny thin black thing” in the water. Miss Spider and the Ladybug notice that there are several. The Earthworm cries that they must be sharks come to eat the peach. Though the Centipede insists that’s silly, he doesn’t sound confident—and everyone believes the Earthworm is right. They look over the edge at the creatures and the Centipede says he believes they’ll be safe if they stay on top of the peach. But at that moment, one of the sharks stares up at the group on top. When the group yells at the shark, the shark opens its massive mouth and lunges at the peach. All the other sharks follow suit. On top of the peach, the bugs panic. The Ladybug asks James to save them.
The sharks make it clear that nature isn’t always benevolent. Sometimes, it can be dangerous and predatory. But the natural world still offers James the opportunity to flex his critical thinking skills when the Ladybug begs him to come up with a plan to save them. In this moment, James starts to look more and more like the levelheaded adult in the group, while the “adult” bugs look increasingly childlike and immature.
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