A Spider and a Pig: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White


Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. 1952.

Similar in voice to Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting, White’s is written in a pleasantly distant third person with an air of mystery, like the story that is unfolding is Very Important. Some things of note:

  • It opens with dialogue, which pulls the reader in immediately. Uncommon for the times, I think?
  • It confronts death quite realistically and without squeamishness. Yes, pigs become bacon and Christmas ham. Yet one pig will be spared.
  • A strong sense of sentimentality runs throughout. Sort of like Charlotte’s character herself.

Total aside: I played Fern in my fourth grade production of Charlotte's Web. I had to sing to a stuffed pig, and during dress rehearsal I went missing for a few minutes, so the Green-Room-Nazi-Mom kept a strict eye on me. She made me miss an entrance during the performance because she didn't believe me when I said I needed to be on stage. Funny what odd details make an impression.

I also had to kiss Wilbur (Jon VanDop, whom I loved desperately) on his sweet little head at the end. I'm so glad he wasn't turned into bacon!