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Transcript

CHARLOTTE'SWEB

LET'S REVIEW

KEY VOCABULARY

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer”

Characters

Author

Summary

Quotes

Themes

CHARLOTTE'S WEB

by E.B. White (1952)

Video

MAIN CHARACTERS

Wilbur

Fern Arable

John Arable

Avery Arable

Charlotte A. Cavatica

Templeton

Lurvy

Homer Zuckerman

Wilbur is a friendly, playful, and often emotional pig who was theruntof his litter.

Fern is a young girl who saves Wilbur from being killed, telling her father it would be aninjusticeto kill Wilbur just because he is theruntof the litter. Fern takes care of Wilbur when he’s a piglet.

John Arable is a farmer and he is Fern and Avery’s father.

Avery is Fern’s older brother. He says Wilbur is a poorspecimenof a pig because he was so small when he was born.

Charlotte A. Cavatica is a spider who lives in Wilbur’s barn and befriends Wilbur when he arrives at Zuckerman’s farm.

Templeton is a sneaky, selfish, rat who lives in Wilbur’s barn. Templeton boasts about his habit of collecting objects and calls himself agluttonbecause he only cares about eating as much as he can.

Lurvy is Zuckerman’s assistant on the farm. He takes care of Wilbur and feeds him.

Homer Zuckerman is a farmer and Fern’s uncle. He buys Wilbur from the Arables.

SUMMARY

ChaptersI - VI

Charlotte’s Webis a novel by E.B. White that tells the story of the friendship between a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte. Wilbur was theruntof his litter so he was going to be killed, but he was saved by the farmer’s daughter, Fern. Fern said it would be aninjusticeto kill Wilbur just because he was small, and she convinced her dad to let her keep him. Fern took care of him until he was sold to her uncle, Homer Zuckerman, because he grew bigger and needed to eat slop made ofmorselsof food rather than the milk Fern would feed him. Wilbur grew lonely at Zuckerman’s farm, and when Fern didn’t visit him one day, he became so sad that he snuck out of his yard. Wilbur’s escape caused a greatcommotion, but he did not escapecaptivityfor long, and was quickly put back in his pen. However, Wilbur was still sad because no one would play with him until one night when he heard a voice saying it would be his friend. The next morning, Wilbur discovered the voice belonged to a spider named Charlotte.

Chapters VI - XVI

Charlotte and Wilbur became friends, although Wilbur was sad his new friend had the “miserableinheritance”(39) of drinking flies’ blood for food. However, Wilbur was content at his new farm with Charlotte - until he learned that he would eventually be slaughtered. Wilbur panicked when he learned this, but Charlotte told him to stop thehystericsbecause she had a plan. In order to save her friend, Charlotte wove messages into her web. First, she wrote the phrase “Some Pig.” Zuckerman thought the message was amiracle, and began thinking Wilbur was a special pig. People came from all around to see Wilbur and read Charlotte’s words. Charlotte realized her plan was working, and decided to write “terrific” on her web. However, she couldn’t spell it unless Templeton, the rat, helped her by getting a scrap of a magazine from the garbage dump. Selfish Templeton didn’t want to help until a sheep reminded him that hisdestinyand Wilbur’sdestinywere linked - if Wilbur was killed, Templeton wouldn’t be able to eat Wilbur’s slop. Templeton agreed to help, and Charlotte wrote “Terrific” on her web. The news of the second message spread and people came to visit Wilbur. Believing Wilbur was a terrific pig, Mr. Zuckerman ordered Lurvy to give Wilbur fresh bedding every night and to build a crate to bring him to the County Fair. Templetonrummagedthrough the dump and found scraps of magazines for Charlotte, and Charlotte decided on the word “radiant.” Over a hundred people came to admire Wilbur. Wilbur asked Charlotte to come to the County Fair, but she said she couldn’t go because she needed to lay eggs. However, Charlotte decided to go to the Fair to support Wilbur, and she asked Templeton to come to help her.

Chapters XVI - XXII

Before leaving for the fair, Mr. Arable mentioned that Zuckerburg could get lots of bacon from Wilbur, and Wilbur worried that he would be killed. Charlotte decided she needed to weave one more message to make sure Wilbur would be safe. Templeton brought her the word “Humble,” and Charlotte wove it into her web. Then, she began making something for herself - an egg sack. In the morning, the Zuckermans and the Arables saw the message on the web, butWilbur still failed to win the blue ribbon. However, he was awarded a special prize by the judges. Charlotte, by then dying, heard the presentation over the public address system and knew that the prize meant Zuckerman would cherish Wilbur for as long as he lived, and would never slaughter him for his meat. Charlotte didn't return to the farm with Wilbur and Templeton, remaining at the fairgrounds to die, but she allowed Wilbur to take her egg sac with him, from which her children would hatch in the spring. Wilbur was delighted when the tiny spiders hatched, but he was devastated when most of them left the barn. Three remained to take up residence in Charlotte's old doorway. Pleased at finding new friends, Wilbur named one of them Nellie, while the remaining two named themselves Joy and Aranea.Wilbur was accompanied by Charlotte’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren for the rest of his days.

QUOTES

“'Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing'” (164).

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer” (184).

“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” (164).

AUTHOR

E.B White

Elwyn Brooks White (1899 – 1985) was an American writer. For more than fifty years, he was a contributor toThe New Yorkermagazine. He also wrote several popular children’s books includingStuart Little(1945),Charlotte's Web(1952), andThe Trumpet of the Swan(1970). E.B. White was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for Literature by President Kennedy in 1963.Charlotte's WebandStuart Littlehelped White win the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1970, andCharlotte's Webwas a Newbery Honor book in 1953.Charlotte's Webwas adapted into an animated film in 1973, and a live action adaptation was made in 2006. E.B White passed away in 1985 at the age of 86.

(1899 – 1985)

Elwyn Brooks White (1899 – 1985) was an American writer. For more than fifty years, he was a contributor toThe New Yorkermagazine. He also wrote several popular children’s books includingStuart Little(1945),Charlotte's Web(1952), andThe Trumpet of the Swan(1970). E.B. White was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for Literature by President Kennedy in 1963.Charlotte's WebandStuart Littlehelped White win the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1970, andCharlotte's Webwas a Newbery Honor book in 1953.Charlotte's Webwas adapted into an animated film in 1973, and a live action adaptation was made in 2006. E.B White passed away in 1985 at the age of 86.

THEMES

Friendship & Love

Friendship and love are major themes of Charlotte’s Web. First, it is because of Fern’s love and compassion that Wilber is able to survive in the beginning. Then, when Wilbur arrives at Zuckerman’s farm, he is lonely without Fern and desperate for a friend to play with him. Charlotte decides to befriend Wilbur and takes care of him. When she realizes her friend is in danger, she weaves words in her webs to save him. Just like Fern, Charlotte saves Wilbur through her love and friendship. Charlotte is a wonderful friend to Wilbur, not only weaving three special webs to help him live, but also accompanying him to the fair even when she felt tired and weaving him a final word, “Humble,” with the last of her energy. Charlotte comments on the meaning of friendship at the end of the novel, saying, “‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you’” (164).

Innocence& Maturity

Both Fern and Wilbur begin as innocent, youthful characters, but mature over the course of the novel. Fern and Wilbur are horrified by death at the beginning of the book; Fern is shocked her father planned to kill Wilbur, and Wilbur is terrified of being slaughtered one day. However, by the end of the book, both characters mature. Wilbur eventually comes to accept death and loss as a reality. Fern grows up and no longer talks with the animals. She doesn’t want to spend time with Wilbur and the other animals like before; at the Fair, she spends very little time with Wilbur because she is off with a boy named Henry enjoying the rides and activities.

Death & Rebirth

Death is a theme throughout the novel. Wilbur is terrified of being slaughtered, and he constantly worries about death. When he first befriends Charlotte, he is taken aback at how she kills flies: “‘It's a miserable inheritance,’ said Wilbur, gloomily. He was sad because his new friend was so bloodthirsty” (45). However, as Charlotte kills and eats flies throughout the story, death becomes more normalized and Wilbur comes to appreciate how Charlotte puts flies to sleep before eating them so they don’t feel any pain. Charlotte protects Wilbur from death, but she is unable to stop her own death and she passes away at the Fair. However, she managed to protect Wilbur from being slaughtered with her messages before she died, guaranteeing his life. Furthermore, the generations of Charlotte’s daughters that accompany Wilbur for the rest of his life signify a sort of rebirth for Charlotte, as Wilbur always has her daughters as friends.

CHARLOTTE'S WEB (1973)

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