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BOOK SUMMARY

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Publisher
: Barnes and Noble Inc.
Number of pages
: 184

Summary:

Charlotte’s Web opens the door to a magical world, which a young girl named Fern finds herself a part of. Fern spends her free time with Wilbur the pig whom she loves and the other barn animals who play a large part in the life of Wilbur. Charlotte A. Cavatica, the large grey spider, befriends Wilbur and helps him deal with the shocking news that his life will end as bacon on someone’s plate. Charlotte goes as far as coming up with an interesting plan that only this spider could carry out with the help of Templeton the rat (who never does anything unless there is something in it for himself) to help Wilbur escape death.

Strong points:

  • Charlotte responds to Wilbur’s need for a friend and dedicates herself to saving his life through the ingenious ploy of spinning words in her web.
    "You have been my friend…That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. 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 the trapping and catching flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that."

  • Charlotte is wiser than Wilbur so she cares for him with something that resembles maternal love. She tells Wilbur bedtime stores and sings him lullabies, teaches him manners, tells him to chew his "food thoroughly and eat every bit of it", encourages him when he is down, and builds up his confidence for the day when he must stand on his own four feet without the benefit of her care.

  • Charlotte gives constant thought to how she will fulfill her promise to save Wilbur’s life. "Day after day the spider waited, head-down, for an idea to come to her. …Charlotte was naturally patient". And like a wise teacher Charlotte gives her pupil as much as he can absorb and not more. She guides him to the point when he must take possession of himself and make independent decisions.

Conclusion:

This book is especially good for first time readers who have taken the big jump from short stories to a real novel. It is easy reading and the talking animals captivate the young children.

Note: For an in-depth study of the relationship between Charlotte and Wilbur, one can consult with profit Tending the Heart of Virtue by Vigen Guroian, p. 97-102. The analysis of the main points of Charlotte’s Web was taken from this author.