James and the Giant Peach

by

Roald Dahl

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James Henry Trotter Character Analysis

James Trotter is the novel’s seven-year-old protagonist. At four years old, James lost his parents in a tragic accident and was forced to move in with his evil aunts—the novel’s antagonists, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. Unlike his cruel and selfish aunts, James is sweet, kind, and curious. He grows increasingly lonely over the three years that he lives with his aunts, as they won’t let him play with other children or explore the woods surrounding their desolate garden. However, James never loses hope that his future will bring better things—so when an old man shows up in the garden one night and offers James a bag of magic crystals, James accepts the bag despite his fear. James is also extremely mature for his age. This becomes increasingly clear when the single peach begins growing on the otherwise barren tree (due to the crystals’ magic). While James’s aunts are whipped up in a frenzy and see the increasingly gigantic peach as something to profit off of, James thinks the peach is the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen and calmly approaches it with awe and respect. James’s childlike curiosity and desire to explore nature leads him to crawl through a hole he finds in the peach and discover a group of child-size garden bugs living inside. As James gets to know the bugs, he learns that it’s wrong to make assumptions about others based on their looks or one’s own preconceived notions. For instance, Miss Spider frightens James at first, but she turns out to be incredibly sweet and teaches him that it’s cruel and even dangerous to judge others based on appearances. When the peach loosens from the tree and plunges into the sea, the adventure really begins, and James has numerous opportunities to solve problems and get his friends out of sticky situations. His solutions, no matter how outlandish, all work, which speaks to his creativity, optimism, and maturity. In New York, where the peach eventually ends up, James is heralded as a hero. He takes up residence in the peach’s pit, which officials set up in New York City. After coming of age over the course of his journey, James pays his lessons forward by writing James and the Giant Peach so that other children can learn the same lessons he did.

James Henry Trotter Quotes in James and the Giant Peach

The James and the Giant Peach quotes below are all either spoken by James Henry Trotter or refer to James Henry Trotter. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Puffin edition of James and the Giant Peach published in 2013.
Chapter 1 Quotes

They were selfish and lazy and cruel, and right from the beginning they started beating poor James for almost no reason at all. They never called him by his real name, but always referred to him as “you disgusting little beast” or “you filthy nuisance” or “you miserable creature,” and they certainly never gave him any toys to play with or any picture books to look at. His room was as bare as a prison cell.

Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

And as time went on, he became sadder and sadder, and more and more lonely, and he used to spend hours every day standing at the bottom of the garden, gazing wistfully at the lovely but forbidden world of woods and fields and ocean that was spread out below him like a magic carpet.

Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

“Oh, Auntie Sponge!” James cried out. “And Auntie Spiker! Couldn’t we all—please—just for once—go down to the seaside on the bus? It isn’t very far—and I feel so hot and awful and lonely...”

“Why, you lazy good-for-nothing brute!” Aunt Spiker shouted.

“Beat him!” cried Aunt Sponge.

“I certainly will!” [...] “I shall beat you later on in the day when I don’t feel so hot,” she said.

Related Characters: James Henry Trotter (speaker), Aunt Spiker (speaker), Aunt Sponge (speaker)
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

“It’s ripe!” she cried. “It’s just perfect! Now see here, Spiker. Why don’t we go and get us a shovel right away and dig out a great big hunk of it for you and me to eat?”

“No,” Aunt Spiker said. “Not yet.”

“Whyever not?”

“Because I say so.”

“But I can’t wait to eat some!” Aunt Sponge cried out. She was watering at the mouth now and thin trickle of spit was running down one side of her chin.

“My dear Sponge,” Aunt Spiker said slowly, winking at her sister and smiling a sly, thin-lipped smile. “There’s a pile of money to be made out of this if only we can handle it right. You wait and see.”

Related Characters: Aunt Sponge (speaker), Aunt Spiker (speaker), James Henry Trotter
Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 23-24
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

There he goes again!” the Earthworm cried, speaking for the first time. “He simply cannot stop telling lies about his legs! He doesn’t have anything like a hundred of them! He’s only got forty-two! The trouble is that most people don’t bother to count them. They just take his word.”

Related Characters: The Earthworm (speaker), The Centipede, James Henry Trotter
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

James decided that he rather liked the Centipede. He was obviously a rascal, but what a change it was to hear somebody laughing once in a while. He had never heard Aunt Sponge or Aunt Spiker laughing aloud in all the time he had been with them.

Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

Already, he was beginning to like his new friends very much. They were not nearly as terrible as they looked. In fact, they weren’t really terrible at all. They seemed extremely kind and helpful in spite of all the shouting and arguing that went on between them.

Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

“But my dear friends!” cried the Old-Green-Grasshopper, trying to be cheerful, “we are there!”

“Where?” they asked. “Where? Where is there?”

“I don’t know, the Old-Green-Grasshopper said. “But I’ll bet it’s somewhere good.”

Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

“None of us three girls can swim a single stroke.”

“But you won’t have to swim,” said James calmly. “We are floating beautifully. And sooner or later a ship is bound to come along and pick us up.”

They all stared at him in amazement.

“Are you quite sure that we are not sinking?” the Ladybug asked.

“Of course I’m sure,” answered James.

Related Characters: Miss Spider (speaker), James Henry Trotter (speaker), The Ladybug (speaker), The Old-Green-Grasshopper, The Centipede, The Earthworm
Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

“You must be crazy! You can’t eat the ship! It’s the only thing that is keeping us up!”

“We shall starve to death if we don’t!” said the Centipede.

“And we shall drown if we do!” cried the Earthworm.

[...]

“You can eat all you want,” James answered. It would take us weeks and weeks to make any sort of a dent in this enormous peach. Surely you can see that?”

“Good heavens, he’s right again!” cried the Old-Green-Grasshopper, clapping his hands.

Related Characters: The Earthworm (speaker), James Henry Trotter (speaker), The Centipede (speaker), The Old-Green-Grasshopper (speaker), Miss Spider, The Ladybug
Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

“Is there nothing we can do?” asked the Ladybug, appealing to James. “Surely you can think of a way out of this.”

Suddenly they were all looking at James.

“Think!” begged Miss Spider. “Think, James, think!”

“Come on,” said the Centipede. “Come on, James. There must be something we can do.”

Their eyes waited upon him, tense, anxious, pathetically hopeful.

Related Characters: The Ladybug (speaker), Miss Spider (speaker), The Centipede (speaker), James Henry Trotter
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

“Why, it’s absolutely brilliant!” cried the Old-Green-Grasshopper when James had explained his plan.

“The boy’s a genius!” the Centipede announced. “Now I can keep my boots on after all.”

“Oh, I shall be pecked to death!” wailed the poor Earthworm.

“Of course you won’t.”

“I will, I know I will! And I won’t even be able to see them coming at me because I have no eyes!”

James went over and put an arm gently around the Earthworm’s shoulders. “I won’t let them touch you,” he said. “I promise I won’t.”

Related Characters: The Old-Green-Grasshopper (speaker), The Centipede (speaker), The Earthworm (speaker), James Henry Trotter (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

“Action stations!” James shouted. “Jump to it! There’s not a moment to lose!” He was the captain now, and everyone knew it. They would do whatever he told them.

Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 24 Quotes

“My dear young fellow,” the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, “there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours that you haven’t started wondering about yet. Where, for example, do you think that I keep my ears?”

“Your ears? Why, in your head, of course.”

Everyone burst out laughing.

Related Characters: The Old-Green-Grasshopper (speaker), James Henry Trotter
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

“You’re joking,” James said. “Nobody could possibly have his ears on his legs.”

“Why not?”

“Because...because it’s ridiculous, that’s why.”

“You know what I think is ridiculous?” the Centipede said, grinning away as usual. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I think it is ridiculous to have ears on the sides of one’s head. It certainly looks ridiculous. You ought to take a peek in the mirror some day and see for yourself.”

Related Characters: James Henry Trotter (speaker), The Old-Green-Grasshopper (speaker), The Centipede (speaker)
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25 Quotes

“But what’s the point?”

“What do you mean, what’s the point?”

“Why do you do it?”

“We do it for the farmers. It makes the soil nice and light and crumbly so that things will grow well in it. If you really want to know, the farmers couldn’t do without us. We are essential. We are vital. So it is only natural that the farmer should love us.”

Related Characters: James Henry Trotter (speaker), The Earthworm (speaker)
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

“But what about you, Miss Spider?” asked James. “Aren’t you also much loved in the world?”

“Alas, no,” Miss Spider answered, sighing long and loud. “I am not loved at all. And yet I do nothing but good. All day long I catch flies and mosquitos in my webs. I am a decent person.”

Related Characters: James Henry Trotter (speaker), Miss Spider
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 27 Quotes

There was not a sound anywhere. Traveling upon the peach was not in the least like traveling in an airplane. The airplane comes clattering and roaring through the sky, and whatever might be lurking secretly up there in the great cloud-mountains goes running for cover at its approach. That is why people who travel in airplanes never see anything.

But the peach...ah, yes...the peach was a soft, stealthy traveler, making no noise as it floated along. And several times during that long silent night ride high up over the middle of the ocean in the moonlight, James and his friends saw things that no one had ever seen before.

Related Characters: James Henry Trotter
Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 98-99
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 32 Quotes

“Those are skyscrapers! So this must be America! And that, my friends, means that we have crossed the Atlantic Ocean overnight!”

“You don’t mean it!” they cried.

“It’s not possible!”

“It’s incredible! It’s unbelievable!”

“Oh, I’ve always dreamed of going to America!” cried the Centipede. “I had a friend once who—“

“Be quiet!” said the Earthworm. Who cares about your friend? The thing we’ve got to think about now is how on earth are we going to get down to earth?

“Ask James,” said the Ladybug.

Related Characters: James Henry Trotter (speaker), The Centipede (speaker), The Earthworm (speaker), The Ladybug (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 33 Quotes

Far below them, in the City of New York, something like pandemonium was breaking out. A great round ball as big as a house had been sighted hovering high up in the sky over the very center of Manhattan, and the cry had gone up that it was an enormous bomb sent over by another country to blow the whole city to smithereens.

Related Characters: James Henry Trotter
Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 37 Quotes

“Don’t be frightened of us, please!” James called out. “We are so glad to be here!”

“What about those others beside you?” shouted the Chief of Police. “Are any of them dangerous?”

“Of course they’re not dangerous!” James answered. “They’re the nicest creatures in the world! Allow me to introduce them to you one by one and then I’m sure you will believe me.”

Page Number: 133-134
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 39 Quotes

And because so many of them were always begging him to tell and tell again the story of his adventures on the peach, he thought it would be nice if one day he sat down and wrote a book.

So he did.

And that is what you have just finished reading.

Related Characters: James Henry Trotter
Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 144-146
Explanation and Analysis:
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James and the Giant Peach PDF

James Henry Trotter Character Timeline in James and the Giant Peach

The timeline below shows where the character James Henry Trotter appears in James and the Giant Peach. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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James Henry Trotter lives a happy, idyllic life. He and his parents live by the sea,... (full context)
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...Aunt Spiker live in a house at the top of a hill. From the house, James can see for miles—and on clear days, he can see his parents’ home and the... (full context)
Chapter 2
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James has now been living with Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker for three years. One morning,... (full context)
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As Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge exchange insults, James chops wood frantically. His ax is too heavy for him, and he’s sweaty and sad.... (full context)
Chapter 3
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At this point, a “rather peculiar thing” happens to James. An old man in a green suit comes out of the bushes. The man is... (full context)
Chapter 4
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James takes the bag and stares at the old man. He listens as the old man... (full context)
Chapter 5
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James races back to the house. He decides that if he can get into the kitchen... (full context)
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Suddenly, James hears a shriek. He looks up to see Aunt Spiker standing over him. As she... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Aunt Spiker, Aunt Sponge, and James stand and watch the peach. James is more excited than he’s been in a while.... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...agree to pay double to take their cameras closer. While all this is going on, James sits locked in his bedroom. He stares out the bars of his window at the... (full context)
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At the end of the day, Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge let James out of his room and send him outside to clean up the mess that the... (full context)
Chapter 9
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James is hungry and upset. The moon is big, high, and casts strange shadows on the... (full context)
Chapter 10
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The hole in the peach is about the size of a fox’s hole. James crouches down and crawls inside it. He realizes it’s a damp, murky tunnel. It smells... (full context)
Chapter 11
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James looks around the room, terrified. The creatures look like insects, but insects are usually small—and... (full context)
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After a moment, the Spider asks James if he’s hungry. James says nothing and the Centipede remarks that James looks ready to... (full context)
Chapter 12
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James is afraid to offend the bugs, so he sets to work untangling the Centipede’s shoelaces.... (full context)
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...Scornfully, the Old-Green-Grasshopper says that he’s a musician, not a pest. The Centipede turns to James and asks if James has ever seen “such a marvelous colossal Centipede.” James hasn’t, and... (full context)
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...his story. The Old-Green-Grasshopper says it’s too late for stories anyway, since it’s about bedtime. James has only undone 20 of the Centipede’s boots, so the Centipede announces that there are... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...Spider makes beds for the Ladybug, the Centipede, and the Earthworm. Then, she turns to James and asks how soft he’d like his bed. James says he likes a very soft... (full context)
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The Centipede says, “Lights out,” but nothing happens. He says it again, louder. James is confused. He looks around and sees the Old-Green-Grasshopper, the Ladybug, Miss Spider, and the... (full context)
Chapter 14
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James wakes up when one of his new friends shouts, “We’re off!” Everyone else is already... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...just set up for another day of selling tickets to sightseers. Aunt Sponge remarks that James never came back last night. She hopes he fell and broke his neck, while Aunt... (full context)
Chapter 17
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It’s chaos inside the peach. James is tangled up with all his friends and all their furniture. The journey down the... (full context)
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...in a coalmine, but the Old-Green-Grasshopper hopes they’ve made it to a country with music. James, meanwhile, hopes they’re near the seashore so he can play with other children. The Ladybug... (full context)
Chapter 18
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On top of the peach, all the bugs and James look around and blink nervously. They’re in the middle of the sea and can barely... (full context)
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...this is nonsense, since nothing is ever fine in the end. The Ladybug whispers in James’s ear that the Earthworm makes everything into a disaster. He likes to be gloomy, though... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...other sharks follow suit. On top of the peach, the bugs panic. The Ladybug asks James to save them. (full context)
Chapter 20
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Slowly, James says he has an idea, but he’s not sure it’ll work. The bugs beg James... (full context)
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...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,... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Once James details his plan, the Old-Green-Grasshopper and the Centipede affirm that it’s brilliant. The Earthworm, however,... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...so that the Old-Green-Grasshopper and the Ladybug can quickly pull him in to safety, while James waits in the tunnel with a loop of string to lasso the gulls. Inside the... (full context)
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In the tunnel, James tells the Earthworm that a gull is coming. When he gives the word, the Old-Green-Grasshopper... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...Silkworm watch everyone else celebrate on top of the peach. When the excitement dies down, James admits he’s worried about what the sharks might have done to the peach. Miss Spider... (full context)
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James shouts that there’s a ship below and everyone runs to look—none of the bugs have... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...climbs higher, the Ladybug asks the Old-Green-Grasshopper if he’d play for them. The Old-Green-Grasshopper agrees. James has never heard music so beautiful, even though he’s heard grasshoppers chirp before. The Old-Green-Grasshopper... (full context)
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The Old-Green-Grasshopper asks James if he liked the music. James loved it and says, “It was as though [the... (full context)
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Everyone laughs when James insists that grasshoppers must have ears on their heads. Instead, the Old-Green-Grasshopper says, grasshoppers have... (full context)
Chapter 25
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Not wanting the Centipede and the Earthworm to argue again, James asks the Earthworm if he makes music. The Earthworm says he doesn’t, but he does... (full context)
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James turns to the Ladybug and asks if the farmers love her as well. Shyly, the... (full context)
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The Centipede notes proudly that he’s a pest; nobody loves him. James asks Miss Spider whether people love her. She sighs as she says that nobody loves... (full context)
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...her out on the lawn” instead. Everyone claps. The Centipede sings his favorite song, but James interrupts and shouts for the Centipede to look out. (full context)
Chapter 26
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...during his songs, the Centipede now teeters and falls off the edge of the peach. James yells for the Silkworm to start spinning and ties string around his waist. He tells... (full context)
Chapter 27
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James and his friends look around at the clouds, which tower over them like mountains. The... (full context)
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...edge of the cloud, chanting about sending hail and snow down to Earth below. When James notes that they just witnessed the creation of hailstones, the Centipede deems that ridiculous—it’s summer.... (full context)
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...rude gestures at the Cloud-Men. Angered, the Cloud-Men begin to hurl hailstones at the peach. James yells for his friends to lie flat. But the Cloud-Men throw the hailstones hard enough... (full context)
Chapter 28
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James and his friends climb back on top of the peach. They don’t see any Cloud-Men,... (full context)
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Silently, James and his friends watch the Cloud-Men scramble over the arch. The Centipede runs down the... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...dry on his lips. The Old-Green-Grasshopper is aghast that the paint dried so fast, but James notes that “rainbow-paint” dries quickly. Miss Spider says she hates paint. The last time Aunt... (full context)
Chapter 30
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...comes out isn’t raindrops, though; it’s like the whole ocean falls out of the sky. James and his friends grab onto whatever they can so the water doesn’t wash them away.... (full context)
Chapter 31
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The Ladybug observes that the peach seems to be going very fast. James thinks the seagulls don’t like the Cloud-Men either and want to get away quickly. At... (full context)
Chapter 32
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...them, which is spotted with tall buildings. The Old-Green-Grasshopper doesn’t think this is England and James agrees—this must be America. The peach crossed the Atlantic overnight. The Centipede is thrilled at... (full context)
Chapter 34
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James tells the Centipede to cut through a string. This doesn’t do anything, but James points... (full context)
Chapter 36
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James tells all of his friends on the peach goodbye. The peach is headed for all... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...board the peach arrive at the edge to look over. The panic stops suddenly when James appears next to his friends. (full context)
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James waves happily at the first responders, laughs, and asks that they not be frightened. He... (full context)
Chapter 38
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Within five minutes, James and his friends are down off the peach. James tells his story to shocked first... (full context)
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The crowds cheer and yell for James and his friends. Suddenly, a little girl runs out and asks to have a taste... (full context)
Chapter 39
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This ends James’s journey, but he and his friends all become rich and successful in the United States.... (full context)
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...pit up in Central Park. In addition to being a famous monument, the pit becomes James’s home. Every day, James welcomes visitors into his home. Sometimes they can find the Old-Green-Grasshopper... (full context)