James and the Giant Peach

by

Roald Dahl

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on James and the Giant Peach can help.
The Earthworm is one of the creatures James finds waiting for him inside the giant peach. Unlike the other bugs in the group, the Earthworm is blind. This—along with the fact that the Earthworm is purposefully gloomy and dramatic—makes the Earthworm the center of most of the Centipede’s jokes and teasing. Even more so than his companions, the Earthworm is prone to dramatic declarations that the whole party is doomed to die. It takes a lot of convincing on James’s part to make the Earthworm see that it’s possible, for instance, to eat the peach so that it doesn’t sink in the ocean. According to the Ladybug, the Earthworm likes being dramatic and pessimistic, but the Earthworm also seems genuinely upset by the Centipede’s constant needling—and in light of the Centipede’s teasing, the Earthworm’s hysterics don’t seem so out of line. Despite his gloomy personality, he is very proud to be an earthworm. He explains that earthworms swallow soil to help farmers’ crops grow well and takes pride in being so useful. Once in New York City, though, the Earthworm abandons swallowing soil and instead, takes a job selling women’s face creams in television commercials—a prime example of Dahl’s flare for the nonsensical.

The Earthworm Quotes in James and the Giant Peach

The James and the Giant Peach quotes below are all either spoken by The Earthworm or refer to The Earthworm. 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 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:
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 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 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:
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 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:
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James and the Giant Peach PDF

The Earthworm Character Timeline in James and the Giant Peach

The timeline below shows where the character The Earthworm appears in James and the Giant Peach. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 12
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
...the Centipede announces he has 100 legs, 100 feet, and 100 boots. At this, the Earthworm cries that the Centipede is a liar—centipedes only have 42 legs, but most people take... (full context)
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
The argument ends when the Earthworm points out that he’s useful and beloved by gardeners, while the Centipede is a pest.... (full context)
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...The Ladybug and Miss Spider shout that the same thing happened to them, while the Earthworm says he swallowed three crystals. Annoyed, the Centipede admonishes his companions for interrupting his story.... (full context)
Chapter 13
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...Old-Green-Grasshopper crawls in. Next, Miss 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... (full context)
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...is confused. He looks around and sees the Old-Green-Grasshopper, the Ladybug, Miss Spider, and the Earthworm snoring. James asks if the Centipede is talking to him, but the Centipede snaps that... (full context)
Chapter 14
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...declines. The Centipede emerges from a hole in the ceiling and says they’re off. The Earthworm mutters that they must be headed for trouble, but the Ladybug says they’ll see great... (full context)
Chapter 17
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
The Earthworm mutters that they must be in a coalmine, but the Old-Green-Grasshopper hopes they’ve made it... (full context)
Chapter 18
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...understand how they got here, and the Old-Green-Grasshopper declares this a “rather awkward situation.” The Earthworm, meanwhile, insists they’re going to die. The bugs panic—the Centipede can’t swim with his boots... (full context)
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Old-Green-Grasshopper says they must keep calm and believe everything will turn out fine. The Earthworm says this is nonsense, since nothing is ever fine in the end. The Ladybug whispers... (full context)
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Old-Green-Grasshopper agrees with the Earthworm and with the Centipede, who insists that they’ll either drown or starve. When Miss Spider... (full context)
Chapter 19
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 20
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 21
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
Once James details his plan, the Old-Green-Grasshopper and the Centipede affirm that it’s brilliant. The Earthworm, however, is distraught. James puts an arm around the Earthworm’s shoulders and promises that he... (full context)
Chapter 22
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
It’s silent on top of the peach. The Earthworm lies in the sun in full view of the seagulls. His tail dangles into the... (full context)
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
In the tunnel, James tells the Earthworm that a gull is coming. When he gives the word, the Old-Green-Grasshopper and the Ladybug... (full context)
Chapter 24
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Earthworm wonders where they’ll end up, but no one else cares. They just know the seagulls... (full context)
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
...side of one’s head. He suggests James look in the mirror sometime. At this, the Earthworm tells the Centipede to apologize and stop being rude. (full context)
Chapter 25
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
Not wanting the Centipede and the Earthworm to argue again, James asks the Earthworm if he makes music. The Earthworm says he... (full context)
Chapter 27
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...must be Cloud-Men. Everyone is afraid the Cloud-Men will see them. The Centipede tells the Earthworm that the Cloud-Men would love to eat an earthworm like salami. (full context)
Chapter 28
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...They don’t see any Cloud-Men, but they do notice that the peach is leaking. The Earthworm panics, but the Ladybug distracts him. She points to a spot ahead, where they can... (full context)
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...problem: the peach is headed right for the arch and the ropes. Miss Spider, the Earthworm, and the Ladybug all panic. James shouts for everyone to hold on as the peach... (full context)
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
...begins to climb down the string. The Centipede yells for the Cloud-Man to eat the Earthworm first, but James shouts for the Centipede to bite through the string. The Centipede does... (full context)
Chapter 30
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...out properly. Miss Spider cries that it’s a Cloud-Man come to get them, while the Earthworm says, “It came from above!” Everyone looks up at a huge, dark cloud. Faintly, they... (full context)
Chapter 32
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...crossed the Atlantic overnight. The Centipede is thrilled at this turn of events, but the Earthworm cuts him off. He insists they need to figure out how to get down to... (full context)
Chapter 34
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...all of the strings and lets all of the seagulls loose. The peach plummets. The Earthworm begs for James to save them, but James can’t. He tells his friends to shut... (full context)
Chapter 37
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...says that his friends aren’t dangerous and, breaking into song, he introduces the Centipede, the Earthworm, the Old-Green-Grasshopper, the Glow-worm, Miss Spider, the Ladybug, and the Silkworm. As he introduces each... (full context)
Chapter 39
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
...the United States. The Centipede becomes the vice president of a boot company, while the Earthworm works for a company that makes women’s face creams. He acts in commercials for the... (full context)