James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach Summary and Analysis of Ch. 26 - 30

In Chapter 26, the Centipede begins singing and dancing so vigorously that he falls off the edge of the peach. Everyone is startled to see him tumble farther and farther down, and everyone believes that they will never see the poor Centipede again. Yet James jumps to action and orders Silkworm to begin spinning, even though she is tired; he then takes Silkworm's rope and leaps down to rescue Centipede.

Before he leaves the peach, James instructs his friends to begin pulling on the rope when they feel three tugs. Soon James is gone, and the others believe that both James and the Centipede have been lost forever, when suddenly they feel three tugs and pull the two of them up. They are both soaking wet, and Centipede tells everyone that James swam around the ocean until he found and rescued him. Old-Green-Grasshopper informs the other passengers that the peach has continued to ascend, and Miss Spider suggests moving downstairs. Yet Old-Green-Grasshopper believes it would be best for everyone to stay up top and keep watch, and that is exactly what they decide to do.

In Chapter 27, the passengers on the peach take note of everything around them as they float higher into the sky. As they go up, they see strange, tall, wispy white things that look like they are made of cotton-wool and candy floss and thin white hairs. Everyone is a little nervous when they first see these shapes and the passengers try to hide and keep quiet, but James and his companions soon realize that the mysterious wispy things - identified as the Cloud-Men - are making hailstones and showering them onto the world them, in practice for the winter.

Suddenly, the raucous Centipede begins taunting the Cloud-Men, even though the others try to quiet him. The effect of his yelling is immediate: the Cloud-Men launch an attack on the peach. They begin throwing hailstones and James instructs everyone to lie down. All of them can hear the hailstones whipping past their heads and smashing into the peach. The projectiles also hit Ladybug on her shell and Centipede on the nose. James instructs everyone to dive into the tunnel to avoid further injury. When they try to light the space, they realize that Glow-worm's light has been broken. Fortunately, the noise of the hailstones ceases and they all climb back up the tunnel. Now, James and his friends discover that there are no more Cloud-Men in the area.

In Chapter 28, the passengers look up at the beautiful sky once again, and this time they see an arch in the distance. They fear that there are Cloud-Men surrounding the arch, and they are correct! Cloud-Men are painting the arch, and upon closer inspection, James and his friends realize that these Cloud-Men are creating a rainbow. The rainbow is supported by a series of ropes, and the Cloud-Men are preparing to lower it down onto earth. Miss Spider realizes that the peach is flying straight into the rainbow and is on course to collide with it. She is correct: the rainbow crashes into the peach and crumbles into several pieces.

The Cloud-Men are outraged, and one of them grabs onto to one of the seagull ropes and begins climbing towards the peach. To make matters worse, James's seagulls are now tangled in the ropes that held the rainbow. Thinking fast, James has Centipede cut the rope that the giant Cloud-Man had attached himself to; as soon as the rope is clipped, the fearsome Cloud-Man is lifted straight into the air. Stunned at this sight, the other Cloud-Men let go of their ropes and the peach is freed from the tangled mess. But out of anger, the Cloud-Men began throwing all the paint and tools at their disposal at the peach, and Centipede is covered in purple paint.

As Chapter 29 begins, everyone assesses the damage that has been done to Centipede. The poor creature is coated in fast-drying paint, which has left him unable to speak or walk. While the creatures suggest possible solutions to his plight, Miss Spider tells the story of how her grandmother had died. The unfortunate elder spider got stuck in drying paint on the ceiling of the evil aunts' house, and Miss Spider and her other family members brought her food everyday. They successfully kept the grandmother spider alive for several days, until Aunt Sponge spotted the spiders and swept the grandmother to her death with a long-handled mop.

The characters hear a voice yelling "On with the faucets!" in the first few lines of Chapter 30. Suddenly, water begins pouring from the sky, and everyone lurches for anything that they can hold onto. James and the others believe that this is the end of their journey and that everyone will be thrown off of the peach by the surging water. Just when the passengers think that they are finished, the seagulls manage to pull them through the storm and the water stops. As they assesses the damage, they find that Centipede is shouting with glee - the paint has all been washed off! To celebrate, Centipede ends the chapter with a song and dance.


Chapter 26 involves another short climax and resolution. Dahl writes as if Centipede has been lost forever, and all of the characters believe that both James and Centipede have died during James's rescue attempt. Dahl effectively establishes this mood of desolation, only to break it rapidly with a moment of victory. James gives three tugs on the rope and brings Centipede to safety. Yet the last sentences of the chapter set the stage for further conflicts - Miss Spider suggests going downstairs and keeping warm during the night, but Old-Green-Grasshopper prefers to stay upstairs and keep watch in case anything happens. Presumably, new adventures will happen, and Dahl's characters will all be on hand, lending further occurrences moments of human drama.

In Chapter 27, Dahl uses a variety of literary devices to make his scenes captivating and his descriptions vivid. In order to both explain the Cloud-Men in human terms and enrich his writing by combining lofty and everyday references, Dahl uses similes and metaphors that compare the Cloud-Men to common household objects. Likewise, the journey into the atmosphere is embellished with similes that compare this fantastic trip to an average trip on an airplane. But Dahl can also switch away from these mundane comparisons to give his material an epic aura. The Cloud-Men, for instance, are also depicted as mysterious, menacing mountains of clouds that have the potential to inflict harm on the peach and its passengers.

All of these chapters have a cosmological aspect to them: they illustrate how the universe, or cosmos, is ordered. Many common, everyday phenomena are explained by customs or events that James and his friends observe while traveling on the peach. For instance, the Cloud-Men are responsible for the rain, snow, hail, and rainbows. In each of these cases, the characters accept the involvement of the Cloud-Men and their role in the formation of pf the weather as the best explanation for these acts of nature. Dahl displays great skill in explaining the ordinary through the magical.

Despite these whimsical and magical touches, sudden death and grim overtones also reappear in this set of chapters. Miss Spider tells an emotional story about the death of her grandmother, a story which involves long suffering, then a sudden attack by Aunt Sponge. This scene also reinforces the position of Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker, even though they are dead, as the main antagonistic force in the novel. These two women were ignorant and cruel, yet they wielded a great deal of power against the more sympathetic characters at the beginning of James's adventures. Yet now, the passengers of the peach express great joy every time the aunts' death is mentioned; after all, this was the moment when the protagonists overcame the main antagonists.

Dahl uses song and dance once again in Chapter 30. The Centipede closes the chapter with a celebratory dance, which is particularly meaningful because he believed he would never sing or dance again after he had been paralyzed by the paint. The rhyme scheme also uses a rhyming couplet at the end of every line, which lends a quick and lively feel to the song - appropriate, considering the Centipede's excitement. Dahl also plays around with spelling during this song, sometimes switching c's with s's; though this feature can go unnoticed on an initial read (and would not be noticed at all if the song were being heard, not read), this wordplay reinforces the atmosphere of spontaneity and liberty that has been established elsewhere in these chapters.