James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach Summary and Analysis of Ch. 36 - 39

In Chapter 36, James has accepted what he believes to be his impending death, and he begins saying goodbye to his newfound friends. He is looking down at the skyscrapers below him, some of which have flat tops and others of which have pointed tops, and he believes that death is imminent. Yet the peach is falling directly above the pointed top of the Empire State Building, and within a moment the peach has struck the building. The pointed top of this skyscraper drives right through the peach, making a squelching sound.

The people of New York City spend Chapter 37 attempting to make sense of the object on top of the Empire State Building. They are now aware that this strange object isn't a bomb, but they still have no idea that it is a peach. Policemen hold their guns at the ready and call for the inhabitants of the object to show themselves. When Centipede, Old-Green-Grasshopper, and Miss Spider emerge, everyone is terrified and many speculate that the peach has come from Mars.

The police officers have no idea what the correct course of action is. Many of them even faint because because they are so fearful of the creatures inside of the peach. They feel pressure from the crowd to take action, but they still don't know what to do. All at once, James emerges from the peach. The crowd is shocked that a young boy had been inside all along. James calls out to the people and tells them not to be afraid, but the people of New York are still wary of the creatures that accompany James.

Breaking into song, James explains that all his companions are harmless and friendly. He begins with Centipede, describing his sweet and gentle soul, and then he moves on to describe Earthworm and the many ways that his species has been helpful to humans. As for Old-Green-Grasshopper, James sings his praises of the Grasshopper's musical abilities. James then praises Glow-worm's cleverness and her ability to provide light. He also sings a verse about Miss Spider, urging the audience to never kill a spider. James goes on to compliment Ladybug's beautiful and kind nature and Silkworm's high-quality silk.

Just five minutes later, James finds himself telling his story to a group of officials; these officials quickly come to regard the passengers of the peach as a group of heroes! They Mayor insists on having a ticker-tape parade for all of them. James and his friends sit in an open limousine, and the peach, hoisted up by giant cranes and placed on a huge truck, follows its onetime crew. Peach juice leaks from the hole where the Empire State Building had pierced through, and the mayor's limousine skids along behind.

While the procession is underway, a young girl runs up to James and asks if she can have a piece of the marvelous peach, and James responds that yes, everyone can have some. Thousands of children jump all over the peach and began eating away. They come from all directions, all savoring the delicious taste of the giant fruit. James, who had believed there couldn't possibly be this many children in the world, is ecstatic, and he believes that this of joyful children is the most wonderful thing in the world. By the end of the parade, the peach has been completely eaten, and only the brown stone in the middle remains.

The journey ends here, but the travelers all live on and become rich and successful. Each of James's friends finds a respected, prominent job that suits his or her talents and interests. And the peach stone is set up as a famous monument in New York City, but it is not only a monument - it is a famous house, too. James goes to live inside this house, and anyone can knock on his door and ask to be shown around. Sometimes one of James' friends comes to visit, and tourists can talk with these other passengers of the peach. Hundreds of children come to the house every week, and they always ask James to tell them his story. They ask him so many times that James decides it would be a good idea to write a book, and he does. As Dahl's final line explains, the book that James wrote is the book that the reader has just read.


In the final four chapters, the story takes an characteristic turn by relating events from the perspective of someone other than James and his friends. Much of the material here relies on the point-of-view of the residents of New York City, who have an extreme fear of the "bomb." Tied in with the idea of perspective is the idea of (sometimes unreliable) interpretation; with the limited information they have, the New Yorkers think the peach is a giant bomb about to destroy everything that they know and love. In real life, too, we are quick to jump to conclusions, but many times we do not have enough knowledge to make proper assessments.

In addition to assumptions about the bomb, the New Yorkers also make assumptions when they first see the creatures who emerge from the peach. The people of Manhattan are very scared and think that they are about to be attacked from monsters from Mars. Their fearful reaction mirrors James's earlier reaction when he first met the giant insects, but the New Yorkers warm to them after learning more about them. This moment in the book teaches an important lesson about first impressions and getting to know someone before delivering judgments.

James's heroic qualities are celebrated during the parade, with thousands of people cheering him and his friends on. He is no longer treated as a child, particularly because he is now the acknowledged expert on the peach and the peach's journey. While the Dahl's novel gives information on what happened to all of James's friends, the focus is on James and the inspiring culmination of his story. Finally, James is surrounded by what he had always wanted: friends. He has never seen so many children, and they all want to know more about his journey. It seems that James will never be lonely again.