Charlotte's Web

by E. B. White

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Discussion Topic

Themes in "Charlotte's Web"

Summary:

Themes in "Charlotte's Web" include friendship, loyalty, and the cycle of life. The story emphasizes the importance of forming bonds and showing kindness, as seen in the relationship between Wilbur and Charlotte. It also explores the inevitability of change and death, teaching readers about the natural progression of life and the enduring impact of true friendship.

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What is the theme of "Charlotte's Web"?

The universal message that an author wants the reader to walk away with after reading a story is the literary element called a theme. Most often, these themes have something to do with what it means to be human. They speak to the reader’s heart and mind in ways they understand and help the reader connect with the story.

While death is a common theme in literature and it does play a part in “Charlotte’s Web,” the theme has much more to do with selflessness and the power of love to overcome hardship and pain. The author, E.B. White, deals with the reality of death in the form of Wilbur the pig’s constant danger of being killed and Charlotte the spider’s natural death. However, it is the main characters’ constant selfless acts of love and affection that either overcome the threat of death or help to deal with it, ending in a positive result. Once Charlotte dies, it is Wilbur, who has survived, that carries on her legacy by lovingly, selflessly caring for her egg sac and seeing to it that her spider offspring safely emerge.

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Are there themes of longing and fulfillment in Charlotte's Web?

You are certainly able to argue that those paired themes are not present in this great children's book, but I do think that it is better to support the idea that those themes are present. I think the best supporting evidence for those themes can be found through specific characters. Definitely look to Fern. It might be a short piece of the story, but she longs for Wilbur to survive. He is born the runt of the litter, and her father believes it is better to kill the pig. Fern longs for Wilbur's survival, and Fern is willing to wrestle an ax out of her father's hands. Wilbur's life is spared, and Fern's hope is fulfilled. I would also look to Wilbur. He will eventually learn that the Zuckermans want to eat him, so once again Wilbur's life is in danger. This time he is old enough to long for and deeply desire not to die. Fortunately, Charlotte rises to the occasion of saving him, and she gives him hope in a future life. Fulfillment arrives when he wins the prize and is guaranteed to live out his life fat and happy.

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