Charlotte's Web

by E. B. White

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1. White based Charlotte on a spider known as Aranea cavatica. How closely does Charlotte conform to the characteristics of this species? What function does this scientific accuracy serve in the narrative?

2. Compare this fable with several fables by Aesop. What are the similarities and differences?

3. Write a plot summary of Charlotte's Web, but tell the story from Templeton's point of view.

4. White often uses barnyard settings and metaphors in his adult essays. How does his fictional use of the barnyard in Charlotte's Web compare with his use of it in some of his essays?

5. White uses many descriptions of places in Charlotte's Web: the barn, the dump, the county fair, and so forth. What effect do these descriptions have on a reader's response to the story?

6. Imagine Wilbur, years after the end of the story, about to die a peaceful, natural death. He decides to write a letter to post on the barn door, telling all the future generations of Charlotte's descendants about their heroic ancestor. Write that letter.

7. There are many definitions of heroism that may be derived from the characters in novels, films, stories, plays, and real life. Considering those examples and the characters in Charlotte's Web, what does White's definition of heroism seem to be?

8. Fern reacts strongly to the injustice of Wilbur's situation in life, and in so doing, she acts as White's surrogate, for he wrote the story out of his own similar feelings. Just what are Fern and White reacting against, and how is that situation unjust?

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