Hendon links this tasting of the fruit and gain of human identity with the biblical story of Adam and Eve, who only become truly human through the knowledge that they gain after tasting the apple. If a link is to be made between James eating the peach and Adam and Eve eating the apple, then it may also be argued that by eating the peach, James also gains knowledge. Hendon claims that this knowledge that James gains is of himself, and allows him to gain confidence enough to make new friends, overcome his fears and, ultimately, to gain independence, living alone in New York.
Another socializing effect that Hendon claims food has in James and the Giant Peach is that of creating families. Whilst James is living with his family, his cruel aunts, he is never allowed to eat with them and is almost starved. The family dynamics are clearly broken as James aunts appear to detest the very sight of him and James is in turn terrified of them. It is not until he finds his way into the peach and has a peach feast with his fellow travellers that James finds himself amongst a true family, strange as they may be. By sharing the meal together an unbreakable bond is created between the unlikely friends and James finds himself in the protective arms of a new family dynamic.
Hendon does not stop here in regards to the symbolism of the giant peach, but goes even further, claiming that the peach is indeed a mother to James. She claims that from the outset of its very existence, the peach is "saturated...with imagery connecting it to birth and fertility" (24), having renewed the productiveness and growth of the barren fruit tree. James is drawn by an invisible force towards the peach and finds himself reaching out and caressing it which, Hendon asserts, is a sign that James feels a deep affection towards it: "He is gentle with it, finding it soft and warm, like a baby and mother. He even goes so far as to nuzzle the peach with his face, a gesture commonly seen between infants and mothers, as well as lovers." (24). Hednon goes even further, suggesting that James entering the peach is a reversal of the birthing process. James is returning to the protective comfort of the womb in attempt to rekindle the feeling of love and security supplied by his mother before she died. Hendon claims that James could "be viewed as a sort of phallus, impregnating the peach and becoming the pregnancy at the same time" (24).
It is interesting then that James and his new friends later go on to consume the entire peach. On one level James is simply breaking out of the womb, no longer needing it's protection as he is able to stand on his own two feet at last. However, by eating the peach, James is also consuming his own mother, destroying her. James no longer needs to cling on to the peach that will eventually rot away and so decides it might as well be eaten, just as James realises there is no need to cling to his dead mother any longer, understanding that clinging to her memory so tightly will not bring her back and that he is at last able to live happily without her.
Hendon, Karlie. 'Food and Power in Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach and Neil Gaiman's Coraline'. <http://dl.uncw.edu/etd/2009-1/herndonk/karlieherndon.pdf> 11th February 2014.