what did wilbur do to make up for the fact that charlotte could not return to the barn
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When Wilbur returns home he has a medal around his neck and Charlotte’s egg sac in his mouth. If we think about it, the medal is highly significant. The medal has been given by the judges at the fair to acknowledge and celebrate Wilbur because he is ‘completely out of the ordinary.’ They believe it is a miracle that the writing appeared in Charlotte’s web and simply believe that supernatural forces are at work to point out to them that Wilbur is special. The medal is given as a respectful and grateful sign to whatever force is out there that they have received the message and are rewarding Wilbur accordingly: they feel privileged to have Wilbur in their life. Little do they realize that they have been completely manipulated and outsmarted by a spider. Their gesture is meaningless because the only reason they bestow it is because they believe Wilbur is special because they have been told that he is. The medal is actually the empty gesture of a group of gullible people following the masses.
To the reader, who has been privy to Charlotte’s schemes, the medal means much more: it symbolises the loyalty, sacrifice, bravery and devotion of a true friend. Although they think they have understood what is going on and think that they are acting correctly by handing the medal to Wilbur, the judges and those humans that support the decision have no actual idea of the meaning of the medal. The medal now has two meanings – to the humans it is a symbol of achievement and a symbol that reminds them that they have acknowledged a miracle and taken note of it. Wilbur is ‘some pig’ to them. The other meaning goes much further. The reader understands so much more than the adults – we understand the full depth of love that brings about the appointment of the medal and we are not limited by definitions. In this novel, when the adults are confused they refer back to the book of life rules for an explanation because they are too frightened to acknowledge that there could be things that they don’t understand. For a child, the possibilities are limitless because they rely on their own imagination – just as Charlotte’s love for Wilbur is limitless.
Wilbur carries the medal around his neck but inside his mouth he holds Charlotte’s children. He is adorned with a symbol of Charlotte’s love but inside him is his own symbol of love for Charlotte as he carefully transports her children from the fair. He is covered inside and out in love.
It is important that most of Charlotte’s children venture off on their own because it is important to acknowledge that each individual has their own path. Each year ‘there were new little spiders hatching out to take the place of the old.’ Although Wilbur never forgets about Charlotte, he learns to accept the fact of life that all things must come to an end but that all things are renewed.