James and the Giant Peach

by

Roald Dahl

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The Peach Symbol Analysis

The Peach Symbol Icon

The titular giant peach symbolizes how the natural world helps children grow and come of age. Before the magical peach begins to grow, James is miserable. His aunts are exceedingly cruel to him and don’t allow him to explore nature or make friends—two things the novel suggests are critical to a child’s development—so James leads a lonely, boring existence.

So when James finds that the peach has grown as big as a house—and is filled with friendly bugs—it becomes the living embodiment of James’s desire to exist in nature and to make friends. The peach also offers James a world far away from the oppressive Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker; when the heavy peach loosens from the tree and rolls down the hill, it fatally flattens the evil aunts, consequently giving James the freedom and agency to play, experiment, and learn on his own.

The peach is also where James begins to sharpen his critical thinking skills and creative problem-solving abilities, which are also critical to the coming-of-age process. Living inside a giant peach presents a set of unique challenges—for instance, when the peach plunges into the ocean, sharks attempt to eat the fruit’s soft flesh, thereby threatening its passengers’ safety. As James comes up with increasingly outlandish ways to save the peach from destruction, he gains confidence and skills that propel him toward adulthood. By the time James lands in New York City, he has symbolically come of age. He signals his maturity by writing down the story of his journey across the Atlantic—his hope is that his story about the peach will consequently help other children as they come of age, too.

The Peach Quotes in James and the Giant Peach

The James and the Giant Peach quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Peach. 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 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 15 Quotes

They panicked. They both got in each other’s way. They began pushing and jostling, and each of them was thinking only about saving herself. Aunt Sponge, the fat one, tripped over a box that she’d brought along to keep the money in, and fell flat on her face. Aunt Spiker immediately tripped over Aunt Sponge and came down on top of her. They both lay on the ground, fighting and clawing and yelling and struggling frantically to get up again, but before they could do this, the mighty peach was upon them.

Related Characters: Aunt Sponge, Aunt Spiker
Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 48-49
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:

“For dinner on my birthday I shall tell you what I choose:
Hot noodles made from poodles on a slice of garden hose—
And a rather smelly jelly
Made of armadillo’s toes.
(The jelly is delicious, but you have to hold your nose.)”

Related Characters: The Centipede (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 64
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 23 Quotes

“That’s it!!” cried the Captain. “It’s a secret weapon! Holy cats! Send a message to the Queen at once! The country must be warned! And give me my telescope.”

Related Characters: The Captain (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Peach
Page Number: 84
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 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:
Get the entire James and the Giant Peach LitChart as a printable PDF.
James and the Giant Peach PDF

The Peach Symbol Timeline in James and the Giant Peach

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Peach appears in James and the Giant Peach. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...yard of their home is big, but desolate. There are some laurels and an old peach tree that never produces any fruit. No children ever visit. James becomes increasingly sad and... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Aunt Spiker shrieks at Aunt Sponge to come look—the peach tree has a peach on it. It’s up on the highest branch. Aunt Sponge is... (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. Within 30 seconds, the peach... (full context)
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The peach continues to grow. When it’s as tall as the tree and about the size of... (full context)
Chapter 8
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News of the peach spreads quickly across the countryside. The next day, hordes of people arrive to look at... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...scared, as anyone would be in such a situation. He looks ahead and sees the peach, which seems even bigger than it was yesterday. The moonlight makes the peach look like... (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.... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...this desolate hill—and consequently leave Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge behind. She notes that the peach tree is on a hill, and the only thing stopping the peach from rolling down... (full context)
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
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...from Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge. As soon as the Centipede is done singing, the peach begins to roll. (full context)
Chapter 15
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...punish James when he returns. Suddenly, they hear an awful noise and turn around. The peach is rolling right for them. Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge scream, panic, and start to... (full context)
Chapter 16
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The peach crashes out of the garden and bounds down the hill, picking up speed as it... (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... (full context)
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
...can play with other children. The Ladybug interrupts and asks if anyone else feels the peach bobbing up and down. The Old-Green-Grasshopper thinks she’s just dizzy, but he suggests they go... (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... (full context)
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...Earthworm is blind. The Earthworm takes offense to this, but James carefully says that the peach is big enough to feed them for weeks. The Old-Green-Grasshopper announces that they’re saved, but... (full context)
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...starve. When Miss Spider asks if she can just eat a tiny bit of the peach, James notes that it would take weeks to eat enough of the peach to sink... (full context)
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The Ladybug remarks that the peach is better than aphids, which is all she’s ever eaten. Miss Spider concurs; this is... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...James insists they need to get going, since there are about 100 sharks attacking the peach now. To everyone on top of the peach, it looks like the peach is sinking.... (full context)
Chapter 22
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It’s silent on top of the peach. The Earthworm lies in the sun in full view of the seagulls. His tail dangles... (full context)
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...James lets about 50 yards of string out and then ties the gull to the peach’s stem. Then, the group repeats the process over and over again. The sharks frantically attack... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Everyone runs to the top of the peach. The view is so magnificent that Miss Spider pulls the Centipede into a dance. Even... (full context)
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...get a bite out of a huge curved surface, like the side of a giant peach. The Ladybug, however, announces that the peach must have healed itself with magic. (full context)
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...everyone runs to look—none of the bugs have seen a ship before. None of the peach’s passengers know that the ship is the Queen Mary, on her way to America. The... (full context)
Chapter 24
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...else cares. They just know the seagulls will hit land at some point. As the peach climbs higher, the Ladybug asks the Old-Green-Grasshopper if he’d play for them. The Old-Green-Grasshopper agrees.... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...was. He sings that she decided to make herself “sleek as a cat,” but the peach made her thinner than any diet would have. Miss Spider loves the song and asks... (full context)
Chapter 26
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...wildly 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... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...the clouds, which tower over them like mountains. The moon rises and illuminates the swaying peach. It’s completely silent. Airplanes, the narrator says, make so much noise that they scare anything... (full context)
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As the group on the peach watches, the Cloud-Men grab handfuls of cloud, roll them into marbles, and then toss the... (full context)
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The Cloud-Men jump. When they notice the peach, they drop their shovels and stare, dumbfounded. Everyone on the peach, save for the Centipede,... (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, but they do notice that the peach is leaking. The... (full context)
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...and his friends watch the Cloud-Men scramble over the arch. The Centipede runs down the peach’s tunnel, but the others on top of the peach observe that the Cloud-Men are painting... (full context)
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...Cloud-Men let go of their ropes, which sends the rainbow pieces tumbling and frees the peach. However, rather than let the peach go, the Cloud-Men run after it, throwing things like... (full context)
Chapter 29
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Finally, the seagulls pull the peach out of the Cloud-Men’s reach. Everyone gathers around the Centipede. As the paint dries, he... (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... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
...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 this turn of events, but the... (full context)
Chapter 34
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...to cut through a string. This doesn’t do anything, but James points out that the peach lost a lot of juice due to the Cloud-Men’s hailstones. After a few more gulls... (full context)
Chapter 35
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The peach falls faster and faster. The narrator is certain that the peach will “smash into a... (full context)
Chapter 36
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James tells all of his friends on the peach goodbye. The peach is headed for all the tallest buildings, so James watches the skyscrapers... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...deck right below the spike. From this vantage point, they can’t see anyone on the peach. The Chief of Police shouts for the travelers to show themselves, so the Centipede sticks... (full context)
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...guns.” They agree to put up a ladder as all seven bugs on board the peach arrive at the edge to look over. The panic stops suddenly when James appears next... (full context)
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...done, the first responders agree that it’s time to get the newcomers down from the peach immediately. (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 responders, who treat James and the bugs like... (full context)
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...friends. Suddenly, a little girl runs out and asks to have a taste of the peach. James gives her permission and hundreds of other children join her. The trail of children... (full context)
Chapter 39
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The city sets the peach pit up in Central Park. In addition to being a famous monument, the pit becomes... (full context)