James and the Giant Peach

by

Roald Dahl

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James and the Giant Peach: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Slowly, James says he has an idea, but he’s not sure it’ll work. The bugs beg James to tell them his idea, but James says it’s no good—they don’t have any string. The Old-Green-Grasshopper they can have as much string as James wants if they wake up the sleeping Silkworm downstairs. Miss Spider says she can also make string. She assures James the string will be thick and strong. With this detail taken care of, James says he’s going to lift the peach out of the water. The Earthworm says James is mad, but James says they can do it by tying string around seagulls’ necks and attaching the other end of the string to the peach’s stem.
James’s plan is ridiculous and outlandish—like much of the novel itself—which reflects his childlike, imaginative way of looking at the world. The other bugs understand that James has a unique way of seeing the world because of his youth and can fix all sorts of problems in inventive ways.
Themes
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
The bugs insist that this is ridiculous, while the Old-Green-Grasshopper says it’ll take thousands of gulls to get the peach out of the air. James notes that there are plenty of seagulls around. He doesn’t know how many they’ll need, but if they get enough, eventually they’ll fly—they just need to be quick so that the sharks don’t sink them first. The Earthworm maintains that James is crazy, since it’ll be hard to lasso a seagull. But James explains that they’ll use the fattest, juiciest earthworm in the world as bait—and that earthworm just happens to be on the peach. At this, the Earthworm becomes hysterical. The Centipede and Miss Spider say they’ll respect the Earthworm as a martyr for the rest of their lives as the Old-Green-Grasshopper asks James for his plan.
The Old-Green-Grasshopper is trying to look at the situation logically and find all the reasons it won’t work. James, on the other hand, is far more optimistic, so he’s open to the possibility that it can actually work. Unlike the bugs, James doesn’t think too hard about how things should work or why they work at all—he just knows, in this situation, that with enough gulls the peach will fly. In this sense, nature still allows James the opportunity to try new things and test out his ability to solve problems.
Themes
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon