James and the Giant Peach

by

Roald Dahl

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James and the Giant Peach Themes

Themes and Colors
Children vs. Adults Theme Icon
Assumptions vs. Curiosity Theme Icon
Nature and Growing Up Theme Icon
Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in James and the Giant Peach, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Children vs. Adults

Four-year-old James has a miserable start to life: after a rhinoceros eats his parents, his evil aunts, Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge, take him in. But instead of treating James with kindness and compassion, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker force James to perform backbreaking manual labor, deny him playtime and the companionship of other children, and even refuse to call him by name. Things only begin to look up when, three years after James…

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Assumptions vs. Curiosity

Everyone in James and the Giant Peach makes assumptions about others—something that the novel suggests is part of being human. However, this doesn’t make it a good thing, as preconceived ideas (especially about other people) can prevent a person from forming new relationships or learning new information. The novel shows that while making assumptions is normal, it’s far better to approach new people or situations with open-minded curiosity and a desire to understand.

A lack…

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Nature and Growing Up

When four-year-old James’s parents die, his life turns upside down. Within days, James is forced to leave his parents’ house by the seaside and move in with his cruel Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker, who live inland, high on a hill. At his aunts’ house, James is confined to their backyard, though he longs to explore the woods surrounding the property—and, eventually, to return to the sea. Through James’s desire to move beyond…

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Fun, Nonsense, and Absurdity

James and the Giant Peach is a fundamentally silly book—it’s absurd, nonsensical, and brimming with poems and songs that beg to be recited out loud. By plunging readers into a world that offers few or no explanations as to how or why it works, Dahl encourages readers of the novel to go with the flow and simply enjoy the story and the experience of reading it. Through this, Dahl suggests that it’s not worth it…

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