The Trumpet of the Swan Critical Essays

E. B. White


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

After writing The Trumpet of the Swan, E. B. White stated, “I think it was extremely inconsiderate of my characters to lead me, an old man, into such unfamiliar territory. At my age, I deserve better.” White leads his readers into a fantasy world of unusual characters in some unique situations.

Louis is a mute cygnet born to a family of trumpeter swans. This condition evokes many terms including “handicaps,” “speech defects” and being “defective.” Although this handicap is not the primary theme of the book, it probably would be dealt with differently in today’s world than it was in 1970. The term “handicap” is now referred to as a “disability” and would probably be handled with more sensitivity.

The book teaches a little about geography as Louis travels to Canada, Montana, Boston, and Philadelphia. The reader also gains some knowledge about science and nature, including some detailed information about cygnets and trumpeter swans. The word “pinion” is introduced and defined so that readers of all ages should be able to understand the term.

Although some of Louis’ adventures seem a little bit far-fetched, readers who can suspend their disbelief are able to stretch their imaginations. Fantasy can lead one to visions of worlds beyond the one at hand, and The Trumpet of the Swan is a wonderful example of the power of this genre.