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Charlotte's Web

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McMaster University
Douglas Bruce

Charlotte’s Web (1952) - E.B. White (1899-1985) Real Animals – Realism - Goose, spider, pig, an old sheep, a rat - A story about preventing Wilbur’s slaughter - Christmas is coming up Family - Farm Life – realism - Fern: exceptional child - Makes no difference between animals and humans - Understands the language of the animals - Does she need a doctor? “I want him to know how queerly she is acting about the pig and everything. I don’t think it’s normal. You know perfectly well animals don’t talk.’ Mr. Arable grinned. ‘ Maybe our ears aren’t as sharps as Fern’s,’ he said” (54) Dr. Dorian - Mrs. Arable fidgeted. “Fern says the animals talk to each other. Dr. Dorian, do you believe animals talk?” “I never heard one say anything.” He replied. “But that proves nothing. It is quite possible that an animal has spoken civilly to me... (White, 1952, pg.110) Animals and Humans – Save Wilbur - Wilbur does not want to die, “I want to stay alive, right here in my comfortable manure pile with all my friends” (49-51) - How do the animals make the humans “SEE”? – ironically through writing. It’s all because of “Success” or a “Miracle”, he’s special (80) - End: Wilbur is allowed to live out his life; Mr. Zuckerman enjoys his proudest moment at the fair when Wilbur receives a medal of honor; Fern grows up and has a boyfriend; Charlotte’s children are born safely; and so forth Spider Charlotte - “bloodthirsty” (39) “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” - “Underneath her rather bold and cruel exterior, she had a kind heart, and she was to prove loyal and true to the very end” (41) - Her philosophy of life (164) o Talks about her motives Charlotte’s Independence - (39-40) “It’s a miserable inheritance,” said Wilbur, gloomily... o Has to find food and take care of herself o Has nobody to do it for her Charlotte’s Intelligence - Charlotte thinks of ways to fool insects for her own survival, and manipulate humans to save Wilbur: “Why, how perfectly simple! She said to herself. The way to save Wilbur’s life is to play a trick on Zuckerman. If I can fool a bug, thought Charlotte, I can surely fool a man. People are not as smart as bugs.” (67) Strength, Loyalty, and Loneliness - Charlotte is driven to save him, “I don’t want to die.’ ... I am not going to let you die, Wilbur” (62-63) - Loyalty until death (41, 171) o Sacrificed everything for him o Remains a true friend until the end and Wilbur is saved - A
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