James & the Giant Peach Symbolism

Instructor: Debra Patuto

Debra has taught at elementary levels and has an M.ed with certification in elementary education and special education

Do you ever think that something you read has a secret meaning? That maybe the autohr is trying to say something to the reader without just saying it? Let's dig deep beyond the words in the story ''James and The Giant Peach'' and see if there is symbolism present in the story. Do the objects, people, and situations within the story mean more than what the written words say? Keep reading to find out!


Think about Valentine's Day. I bet you give out cards to friends and family. Sometimes you may give or receive little gifts like stickers, lollipops or pencils. You probably know someone who sends flowers such as red roses to someone special.

Bouquet of Red Roses Used to Symbolize Love and Friendship on Valentine

Why do you send these cards or gifts? I bet there is a deeper meaning behind the Valentine cards, candy and flowers. They are all symbols of love or friendship. When you give these items to someone, they represent or symbolize the love or friendship you have for that person.

What is Symbolism?

Symbolism within literature is when the written words about an object, person or situation have more than just it's literal or true meaning. There is a deeper meaning in the content of the whole story that the author may not write out in words.

In the story James and The Giant Peach, there are many different examples of symbolism. Let's take a look at some of the objects and characters that have more meaning behind them than you may have originally thought.

The Giant Peach

The giant peach in this story represents more than just a large, magical peach that's fun and exciting to watch grow in James' yard. What do you think it might symbolize?

James was raised by his parents in a loving, nurturing environment. In an environment where he was allowed to play, make friends and enjoy being a kid. After his parents died and he was sent to live with his cruel aunts, James was isolated and deprived of all love and nurturing. He was barely fed, slept in a small space and was not allowed to make any friends.

Peach Tree similar to the One that Grew the Giant Peach that Symbolizes a Nurturing Environment for James.

The giant peach symbolizes a nurturing environment for James, like the one his parents had provided for him before their death. It becomes a place where James can grow. Inside of the giant peach, James begins a rapid transformation from being a young boy who was hopeless, scared, miserable and lonely, to becoming a young boy who is capable, empowered, trusting, happy and has many friends.

Other Symbols

At the start of the story, the hungry rhinoceros eats James' parents, and he is sent to live with his cruel aunts. This is a very shocking and sad way to start the story, but the rhinoceros symbolizes the death and misery in James' life.

The magical green objects inside the paper bag symbolize hope. James is hopeful that these magical objects will lead him to a better life.

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