Charlotte's Web

by E. B. White

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If Charlotte's Web could be broken down into ten events, what would they be?

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The famous mythologist Joseph Campbell outlined the stages of what he called the monomyth, a basic plot structure that he found to be common to traditional tales throughout history. Many contemporary stories follow this basic structure, which shows the journey of the hero as she embarks on an adventure of some sort. To provide you with an outline of ten significant events, I have applied this structure to Charlotte’s Web. In this book, both Fern and Wilbur share the same mission, and thus, the journey of the hero applies to both of them.

1. Ordinary World (The hero lives in an ordinary world before she begins her adventure):
Fern lives on a farm and discovers her dad with a new piglet.

2. Call to Adventure (The hero is faced with a challenge):
Fern adopts the piglet and vows to raise it herself.

3. Refusal of the call (Something poses a challenge for the hero, who must then decide whether to answer or refuse the call):
Wilbur is sold to Fern’s uncle, which forces Fern to relinquish care of Wilbur.

4. Meeting the Mentor (The hero meets a helper who aids him in his mission):
Wilbur meets Charlotte, who helps Wilbur prove his self-worth, which in turn helps Wilbur succeed on his quest.

5. Crossing the Threshold (The hero faces an obstacle that signals the beginning of the adventure):
Wilbur learns that he will be slaughtered.

6. Passing the Trials (The hero must pass a series of tests that help her accomplish her mission):
Charlotte writes messages in her web to convince people of Wilbur’s worth.

7. Approaching the innermost cave (The hero faces the most critical part of the journey, the part where it appears that his adventure will fail):
Wilbur enters the country fair.

8. The Supreme Ordeal (The hero battles enemy forces and wins):
Wilbur wins the prize at the fair.

9. The Reward (The hero is rewarded for his success):
Wilbur, due to his fame, will not be slaughtered.

10. The Road Back (The hero returns to the ordinary world with insight from his journey):
Wilbur returns to the farm with Charlotte’s egg sac, which will produce thousands of baby spiders.

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  1. Fern Arable, a little girl, saves a piglet from being killed due to his small size.  She names him Wilbur.
  2. Wilbur is sold to Fern's uncle and lives on his farm.
  3. Wilbur meets a spider named Charlotte, who becomes his friend.
  4. Wilbur learns that he will eventually be slaughtered, and Charlotte decides to help him escape this fate.
  5. Charlotte begins spinning words in her web, like, "Some pig!"  Wilbur becomes famous for this strange phenomenon.
  6. Wilbur is entered into the county fair due to his fame.  He will not be slaughtered because he has become too well-known.
  7. Charlotte lays her eggs and dies at the fair.
  8. Wilbur returns to the farm with Charlotte's egg sac and promises to protect it now that he has been saved from slaughter.
  9. Charlotte's eggs hatch, and all the baby spiders except for three leave the farm.
  10. Wilbur names the three baby spiders Nellie, Aranea, and Joy, and they stay with him.

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