James and the Giant Peach Analysis

Roald Dahl

Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

James Henry Trotter is a four-year-old who lives by the sea with his gentle and loving parents and is free to play in the sand with his many companions. One tragic day, his parents are gobbled up by a rhinoceros that escaped from the London Zoo. James’s home is sold, and he is sent to live with his aunts, Sponge and Spiker, on a remote hilltop, geographically as well as emotionally distant from his idyllic past.

The main story of James and the Giant Peach actually begins three years later with a much-altered James. Instead of a happy-go-lucky toddler, he is now a slave to his selfish and self-centered aunts. James is beaten regularly, deprived of food, isolated from other children, and forced to do all of his aunts’ work.

One beastly hot summer day, James chops wood for the kitchen stove and his aunts lounge in the shade drinking lemonade. The child recalls the days when his parents were alive and his life was full of love and friendship. James is startled by the appearance of a tiny man who hands him a bag of what appear to be sparkling green crystals. Upon closer inspection, James discovers that the minuscule particles are in motion. The elf tells James that they are magic that will transport him away from his dreadful life if he will only follow directions. In his haste to do as the elf has instructed, James trips and spills the crystals at the base of an old peach tree. He tries to recover the lost magic, but the wormlike particles burrow into the earth as quickly as James reaches for them.

Within twenty-four hours, the tree has produced an enormous peach that draws...

(The entire section is 664 words.)