In E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White introduces a few farm animals and some farm pests. In this story a blood-thirsty spider turns out to be the best friend that anyone could ever have. The stubborn pig ends up being very dynamic and lucky by narrowly escaping death multiple times with the help of his friends. The last character is commonly symbolized as selfish and uncaring and Templeton the rat matches his symbolism, although he does not learn morals in the story, he teaches them. E.B. White uses the opposite of the characters symbolism to learn and teach morals throughout the novel.
In Charlotte’s Web E.B. White makes all the characters not act how they are depicted in society, and she shows this most with Charlotte. When people think of spiders they think of nasty or creepy creatures. Spiders are sometimes feared so much that people develop arachnophobia. Although spiders have a bad rap and are not exactly the most cherished of animals, E.B. White makes Charlotte the complete opposite. Charlotte may still have to hunt and feed like a spider, but she is the heroine of the story and is the most unselfish characters in the novel by helping Wilbur numerous times. It eventually leads to sacrificing herself for his safety. She justifies her acts by simply saying “You have been my friend,” (White 164.)
When Wilbur first appeared in the barn he asked for friends, but from his search he received no takers, except for Charlotte. She apparently was not friends with any of the farm animals because they did not pay any attention to her. “Although the other animals did not really associate with her they did not hate her because she got rid of pests in her web,” (White 40.) So that leads me to believe she chose to be Wilbur’s friend because she was lonely too. Although Wilbur had found a friend he did not think much of her.
“Charlotte is fierce, brutal, scheming, blood-thirsty—everything I don’t like,” (White 41.)
Wilbur is talking about the way Charlotte obtains her meals. He acts a little ignorant by not understanding that Charlotte has to find a way to eat, and trapping her food may seem scheming and barbaric, but it’s how she lives. She also uses her web to spell words and that helps save Wilbur’s life, which in a way her web symbolizes creating new possibilities ("Incredible@rt Department".) Later on Wilbur learns a lesson to not judge anyone based on how they look.
In African Folklore spiders are depicted as tricksters from their tactics of making traps for insects that are too careless to watch where they are going. Besides fables, folklore, and mythology; spiders are depicted most evil in American films and television. Films such as Arachnophobia make spiders out to be almost demonic that do nothing but bring death. However E.B. White makes Charlotte a demanding helpful protagonist in the storyline, instead of an object of fear and horror.
The greatest example of her selflessness in the novel is when Wilbur went to the fair. She knew she was going to die soon and to add to her problems she had to lay her eggs before she died. Even though she wanted she wanted to lay her eggs in the barn she decided to go to the fair to help Wilbur and risk not being able to lay her eggs in a safe place to make new generations of spiders. “Charlotte knew her health was languishing and she would not see her babies return to the barn before her death,” (White 146.) This is not the only time she was selfless. She thought so much of Wilbur that she told him she could save his life without a plan.
“Having promised Wilbur that she would save his life, she was determined to keep her promise… She felt sure that if she thought long enough about Wilbur’s problem, an idea would come to her mind,”( White 67.)
She made a promise that placed Wilbur’s life in her hands. That means she is very determined in helping her new friend, instead of being selfish like cultures depict spiders.
Even though everything depicts spiders as evil....
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