Charlotte’s Web Analysis
Charlotte’s Web is a children’s novel based on a story of a pig named Wilber and a spider named Charlotte which was his close friend. Friendship is a moral virtue that should be treasured in every stage of life and so nobody feels good when they do not have a friend in the community. At the beginning of the novel, there is a small girl named Fern. Fern learns that her father intends to kill Wilbur because of the litter, but she begs her dad not to kill it by stating, “please don’t kill it!” (White Garth, & Edith, 3-7). In return, her father does not kill the piglet but allows her to take care of the piglet so that she can learn a few lessons on how to conserve a piglet. Once the piglet is old, Fern’s dad decides to sell it to her uncle who owns a farm. At the farm, Wilbur gets lonely since no farm animals would interact with him. Eventually, Wilbur hears a voice telling him that they can be friends and was surprised to learn that the voice came from a spider that seemed bloodthirsty. At first, Wilber is horrified by the spider’s bloodthirsty nature but later they become great friends. He learns that the spider’s name was Charlotte.
At the farm, an old sheep enlightens Wilbur learns that his keeper Mr. Zuckerman was planning to kill him for Christmas dinner. In return, Wilbur goes to Charlotte for help and tells him his troubles. He states, “Charlotte, I don’t want to die.” Charlotte comforts him and says “Of course you don’t” (White Garth, & Edith, 54-60). After days of thinking, Charlotte comes up with an idea of how she will help her friend. She spins some messages on her web meant to praise Wilbur and also write “some pig” and “terrific”, words meant to astonish Zuckerman and all the people in the town. These acts preoccupy Zuckerman’s mind and he lets the pig enter into the competition at the County Fair. Wilbur wins in the competition and Mr. Zuckerman receives the top prize. His success is described as “the greatest moment of his life”. Notably, the success in the competition ensures that Wilber is not slaughtered (White Garth, & Edith, 15-88) However, Charlotte reaches the end of her lifespan after laying eggs and weaving the egg sac while at the County fair. This makes her weak to move on with life. With the help of a rat named Templeton, Wilbur is able to salvage the eggs and transport them back using Zuckerman’s barn, where they hatch during Spring. After hatching, the majority of the young spiders departed their mother’s web to make their own webs. However, three young spiders stay with Wilbur and strengthen their mother’s friendship.
From the novel, one moral problem is evident when Fern’s dad wants to kill the young piglet. This would have restrained the relationship between the father-daughter since the daughter loved the piglet to an extent that she agreed to take care of it. The other moral issue is that of loyalty where Fern decides to make visits to Wilbur at her uncle’s farm (White Garth, & Edith, 14-25). Similarly, Charlotte agrees to help Wilbur so that he is not killed during Christmas festivities. This shows that the two animals were fond of each other and that they were ready to help each other. The relationship continues even after Charlotte dies since Wilbur saves her eggs and takes care of her young spiders.
The book has also set tension between competing moral claims in a clear manner. For instance, Fern is aware that the young piglet should be allowed to live and therefore urges her father not to kill it. On the other side, her father does not see the need for the piglet to live and that is why he plans to kill it (White Garth, & Edith, 10-17). Similarly, the animals on the farm do not want any friendship with Wilbur which forces him to remain lonely. However, Charlotte comes to his rescue and offers a lifetime friendship. Therefore, it is evident that there are two scenarios that show the competing moral claims.
The attempt of killing Wilbur by Fern’s dad and uncle is a form of moral subversion. This is because the act would have made Fern angry and unhappy. At the same time, Wilbur’s life would have ended leaving Charlotte with no friend. Additionally, Wilbur had the option of eating all his food alone but chose to share it with Templeton the rat. This shows that he was concerned about others and was not selfish. This is one of the parts that are in the novel that sets limits to moral subversion unlike where the two men were willing to kill the pig with no change of mind (White Garth, & Edith, 36-42). The moral authority seems to lie from Fern, Charlotte, Wilbur ad Templeton. This is because all the four characters chose to overlook any hardships and help one another. In addition, due to their role, they have obtained some form of authority in the novel. For example, Ferns succeeds in limiting her father to kill the piglet. Charlotte, on the other hand, succeeds in rescuing her friend, and thus he is not butchered. Also, both Wilbur and Templeton ensure that Charlotte’s eggs are safe.
From the novel, religion is depicted where all the animals work together as one community and as a family. However, Templeton is the only one who does not join the rest of the animals which are isolated. This shows that it is immoral for one to be selfish and expect other members of the community to treat him well (White Garth, & Edith, 44-50). In general, it is evident that the book enlightens individuals on many morals issues that are required for a community to co-exist harmoniously. For instance, every person deserves friendship just like Wilbur. Also, people should not be selfish and expect to be accepted by members of society. Instead, they should uphold loyalty since it is one of the moral virtue that should exist between friends. This is seen in Charlotte and Wilbur’s friendship. Finally, it is through loyalty and true friendship that Wilbur was able to live at the farm. This is what contributed to Wilbur’s maturity and becoming a responsible pig. Also, this is the reason he was able to live with Charlotte’s young spiders.
White, E B, Garth Williams, and Edith G. Rosenwald. Charlotte’s Web., 1952. Print.