Charlotte's Web Study Guide

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

Charlotte's Web is a novel about a pig named Wilbur whom a spider named Charlotte who lives in the barn as well. Charlotte attempts to save Wilbur from slaughter by spinning complimentary messages about Wilbur into her web ("SOME PIG") with the help of a rat named Templeton. Wilbur is saved but Charlotte soon dies, leaving her egg sac. The young spiders live on and Wilbur is pleased to have new spider friends.

After her father spares the life of a piglet from slaughtering it as runt of the litter, a little girl named Fern Arable nurtures the piglet lovingly, naming him Wilbur. On greater maturity, Wilbur is sold to Fern's uncle, Homer Zuckerman, in whose barnyard he is left yearning for companionship but is snubbed by other barn animals, until befriended by a barn spider named Charlotte, living on a web overlooking Wilbur's enclosure. Upon Wilbur's discovery that he is intended for slaughter, she promises to hatch a plan guaranteed to spare his life. Accordingly, she secretly weaves praise of him into her web, attracting publicity among Zuckerman's neighbors who attribute the praise to divine intervention. As time passes, more inscriptions appear on Charlotte's webs, increasing his renown. Therefore, Wilbur is entered in the county fair, accompanied by Charlotte and the rat Templeton, whom she employs in gathering inspiration for her messages. There, Charlotte spins an egg sac containing her unborn offspring, and Wilbur, despite winning no prizes, is later celebrated by the fair's staff and visitors (thus made too prestigious alive to justify killing him). Exhausted apparently by laying eggs, Charlotte remains at the fair and dies shortly after Wilbur's departure. Having returned to Zuckerman's farm, Wilbur guards Charlotte's egg sac, and is saddened further when the new spiders depart shortly after hatching. The three smallest remain, however. Pleased at finding new friends, Wilbur names the spiderlings Joy, Nellie, and Aranea, and the book concludes by mentioning that more generations of spiders kept him company in subsequent years.

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