Charlotte’s Web by E.
B White is an American classic and favorite among all ages. The lessons learned from Charlotte’s Web are still valued and utilized today. The theme or thesis White is trying to convey, on a broad scale is all about life. Ths focuses more specifically are: friendship, death, loyalty, and heroism. Keeping in mind that White’s intended audience are children, he uses animals as a wide range of different types of characters to illustrate friendship, what a real friendship means, and death and how to accept it. All of these themes are shown through relationships. The relationships between the characters, how they feel about each other, and more importantly how they lean on each other to handle traumatic events.
I will be focusing on the relationship in the lives of Charlotte the spider, Wilbur the pig, and Fern the young girl. The lessons these three characters represent is the importance of friendships and exactly what it takes in order for a friendship to survive. It allows children to see the beauty and how to care about others in positive ways. Through all of this, White helps explain to children the concepts of life and death. He uses animals to be a reliable source for children. In addition to the lessons learned about friendships, other major life lessons are showcased throughout Charlotte’s Web and will be discussed in length. The story begins when a new litter of pigs are born at the Arable farm. From the litter, there were eleven pigs born including the runt.
Since the runt usually dies anyway, Mr. Arable planned on killing it. When Mr. Arable’s daughter, Fern, heard that her father had this intention she became very upset saying, “This is the most terrible case of injustice I ever heard of.” (3) It’s not surprising that Fern who is a child has a such strong reaction to the possibility of death. Mr. Arable decided that he would not kill the runt if Fern committed to take care of it. Fern was ecstatic by the new opportunity and decided to name her new friend, Wilbur.
To say the least, Fern followed through with her father’s expectations. She fed, played, and walked Wilbur everyday. After a few weeks, Fern was forced to sell Wilbur to the Zuckerman farm. Wilbur hated being in the barn with the other animals. He could no longer play or walk with Fern, and was always stuck in his pen. From Wilbur’s birth, relationships were already important to him.
If it weren’t for Fern, Mr. Arable would have killed him. It is clear that Wilbur values his friendship with Fern considering he is so bored and miserable in his new home. From the beginning there is a focus on the relationship between humans and animals. To Mr. Arable, all animals mean is money. As for Fern, she is the complete opposite of her father. Fern makes a real connection with Wilbur and the rest of the animals.
The animals trust Fern, and enjoy when she is around. Even though Fern visits the Zuckerman farm as much as she can, Wilbur becomes very lonely. He tried to play with the other animals on the farm, but they all say no for different reasons. Wilbur can’t imagine things getting better at this point. Just as Wilbur was about to fall asleep he heard something. “Do you want a friend, Wilbur?” it said.
“I’ll be a friend to you. I’ve watched you all day and I like you.” (37) Wilbur jumps to his feet out of excitement of the possibility of a new friend. He quickly becomes confused though, because he can’t see where the voice is coming from.
The next morning, Wilbur meets the voice and discovers it was a spider named Charlotte. One of the first things Charlotte shows Wilbur is how she catches her food and sucks the blood from her victims bodies. Wilbur isn’t quite sure what to think of her methods, but he is positive that he thinks it is cruel. In these past few chapters there has been no mention of a human.
The story is beginning to focus on the relationships between the animals themselves. More specifically, the relationships Wilbur has with the other animals. Wilbur is feeling alone and betrayed by everyone. No one wants to spend time with him other than Charlotte, and he isn’t sure if he wants to be friends with her because of how bloodthirsty she is. Soon enough though, that would be the least of Wilbur’s problems. Wilbur finds out from one of the sheep that the Zuckerman’s have been trying to fatten him up in order to kill him at Christmas time. To say the least, Wilbur freaks out and goes around screaming, “Save me! I don’t want to die!” (56) Charlotte hears Wilbur screaming and attempts to calm him down even though they aren’t friends quite yet.
For some unknown reason Charlotte cares about Wilbur and his life and tells him she will come up with a plan in order to save him. Since Charlotte is being so caring, Wilbur starts to overlook her bloodthirsty ways and admires her web. Wilbur decides he is going to try and impress Charlotte.
He says that he can also make a web just like her. He makes many attempts, and of course fails. Charlotte reassures him that it is okay and he has many talent of his own. She continues to tell him not to worry about being the centerpiece of Christmas dinner, and to just stay healthy and get some rest. At the point in the story the main human connection with the animals is that they want to kill Wilbur for dinner.
At this point, the themes and lessons about heroism come into play. Charlotte has a plan to save Wilbur. She decides that she is going to write “some pig” with her web.
To humans, for a spider to be able to do something like this is amazing. Mr. Zuckerman sees the web and is shocked, so he goes to tell his priest, who tells the entire town. At this point, people are lining up at the Zuckerman farm in order to see Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider. How could the Zuckerman’s kill Wilbur, the special pig now? In these last events, the relationships between the humans and animals take a shift.
As soon as Avery saw Charlotte his immediate reaction was to swat her down and kill her. This interaction is showcasing that this relationship isn’t always fair. These were Avery’s natural instincts. On the flip side, now all of the humans see Wilbur as much more than just an ordinary pig. Their views about Charlotte and possibly spiders in general have now changed. These new views do not end there. Charlotte decides to take it up a notch and spin the word “terrific”. The effect of the second stunt is even bigger than the first.
Mr. Zuckerman loves the attention he and his farm is getting because of Wilbur, and Wilbur is truly starting to believe he really is terrific. As the chapter goes on, it is clear and Wilbur and Charlotte’s friendship is growing.
By now, it is clear that Charlotte and Wilbur have a special friendship and many lessons are learned from them. For example, Wilbur says, “Why did you do all this for me? I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.” Charlotte responds by saying, “You have been my friend, that in itself is a tremendous thing.
” (170) This interaction teaches us about loyalty and how we don’t realize how much of an impact we are potentially making in someone else’s life. This is crucial for children to be exposed to. Another lesson that can be learned from Charlotte and Wilbur’s friendship is that some of the most important people that come into our lives can be very unexpected. This is showcased when Wilbur says, ” I’ve got a new friend, all right. But what a gamble friendship is! Charlotte is fierce, brutal, scheming, bloodthirsty- everything I don’t like. How can I learn to like her, even though she is pretty and, of course clever?” (46) It is clear that Charlotte really came out of nowhere into Wilbur’s life, and yes, Wilbur needed to overlook some things about Charlotte, but in the long run the positives about Charlotte highly outweighed some of the negatives he saw. Going off on that, Charlotte said to Wilbur, “You’re terrific as far as I’m concerned and that’s what counts .
You’re my best friend, and I think you’re sensational.” (97) Friends see the best in each other, no matter what. Lastly, and most importantly, friends can save your life.This lesson is blantely showed in Charlotte’s Web in two ways.
First, when Fern saves Wilburs life by agreeing to take care of him and secondly when Charlotte does everything in her power to ensure that he would not be killed for Christmas dinner. Staying on the topic of lessons, the following will present other life lessons I think are learned from Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte wonders, ” After all, what’s a life anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life with a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” (170). E.
B. White is using these words through Charlotte to convey that life should be celebrated and to make the most of it, even if you feel as insignificant as a spider. An important lesson that I think goes unnoticed at times from this story is the importance of diversity. There are many different types of animals in Charlotte’s Web. There are cows, geese, a horse, sheep, and a rat. Even though they all live in the same place, none of them want to become friends with each other. The animals have a very difficult time trusting other animals that aren’t like them. This can be compared easily to humans.
Humans tend to attract to those just like us. Yet, when something tragic happens in the world we often see humanity uniting no matter what their background. The same can be said in Charlotte’s Web. The animals work together despite their differences to help Wilbur and Charlotte.
This lesson is incredibly valuable and should not be overlooked. The characteristic of determination is very important for children to have. There are many examples of determination throughout the story. For example, Fern is determined to save Wilbur from her father and take care of him. Charlotte is determined to show Wilbur he isn’t just “some pig”.
Most importantly, Wilbur is determined to show Charlotte how much he appreciates her by being a good friend. Wilbur’s fate seems unchanging, but with determination, Charlotte and the other farm animals manage a way to save him. You can accomplish anything with determination. Anne of Green Gables has a similar theme of friendship like Charlotte’s Web. One of the things that are so similar is how unexpected some of Anne’s friendships are just like Charlotte and Wilburs. Anne becomes friends with Diana’s great aunt Josephine and even Mrs. Lynde. Anne relies on her relationships with others in order to survive.
For example, without the Cuthbert’s who knows where Anne would of ended up. Also, Diana’s friendship to Anne is very important to her as she relies on her often. These types of relationships can also be seen in Matilda. Just as Fern saves Wilbur from death and misery, Miss. Honey saves Matilda from a life of being ignored and unappreciated.
In many ways, it can be argued that Wilbur also saved Charlotte in a way. She was also eager to have a friend and look out for someone. That was her nature. It can also be argued that Matilda saved Miss. Honey in many ways. The obvious one is when Matilda uses her magic to get Miss.
Honey’s house and money back, but more than that Matilda gave Miss. Honey someone to love and a positive experience with family, whether biological or not. In these three stories, there are many examples of characters relying on each other to stay afloat, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Sometimes we need others to get through the hardships in life.
These stories show us all, that it is okay and acceptable to accept help from others. In conclusion, Charlotte’s Web teaches so many valuable things that people at all ages still hold very near to their heart. This is a story that can be read at any stage of life and can still relate on many different levels. The acceptance of the natural life cycle, the importance of loyalty in our relationships, and finally to appreciate life to its fullest. At the end of the story, just as Wilbur knows he is going to be saved his best friend faces the end of her life. All Wilbur can do is be grateful for all Charlotte did for him, and to live his best life in her legacy.
All we can do as readers, is take the lessons from Charlotte’s Web live our best lives as well.