Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web Summary and Analysis of Section Seven

A few days after spinning her first words, Charlotte calls a meeting. All the animals are there - Wilbur, the gander, the goose, the goslings, the sheep, the lambs and Templeton (who arrives late) - to decide what she should write next in the web. Worried that people are getting bored of 'SOME PIG', Charlotte wants a new message. After a few suggestions, she decides on 'TERRIFIC'. Wilbur pipes up and argues that he isn't at all terrific but Charlotte tells him that he is terrific to her. That night she starts work.

She works well into the night and carefully constructs the letters in her web, doubling up the thread so that the letters stand out. The next morning when Lurvy arrives, there is another miracle to behold and he tells the Zuckermans immediately who tells the Arables. Mr Zuckerman reports it to The Weekly Chronicle and soon the news spread. Those that journeyed to see 'Some Pig' are delighted to journey back when they hear. Zuckerman has big plans for Wilbur now - he wants to take him to the County Fair and asks Lurvy to make a large crate with the sign Zuckerman's Famous Pig written on it. He is also instructed to replace his manure bedding with fresh straw.

Meanwhile, Templeton is searching for newspaper clippings for Charlotte. First he comes back with 'Crunchy' which alarms Charlotte - she certainly doesn’t want to advertise Wilbur's dinner table potential - and then with 'Preshrunk' which won't do either. Next he brings back a label reading 'With New Radiant Action' from a soap flake box. As Wilbur gallops and jumps around the barn, Charlotte decides that she will use 'Radiant' for her next spinning project.

When Fern arrives, Wilbur is tired and asks Charlotte for a bedtime story, which she delivers even though she is exhausted herself. She tells of how her cousin fought with a fish tangled in the web she had built across a small stream. She battled it and triumphed, eating it later when she was hungry. After the story, she sings Wilbur a lullaby and he goes straight off to sleep and Fern goes home.


It is hugely significant that the first paragraph of this chapter ends like this: ‘When she had finished ripping things out, her web looking something like this’, followed by a diagram. This is the first time that White has asserted his presence in the novel and at this point he is in direct communication with us. Here he is not simply telling us a story which as we read is acted out in our imagination, he physically shows us what the web looks like by drawing it for us thereby making the story alive. It is interesting that just at the point where skepticism is thrown over what you read in print (when Charlotte talks about how gullible man is), White reasserts his authority. Although he wants to point out that everything should be questioned, he is also keen to keep his relationship with the reader so that the authenticity of his story is not undermined.

It is ironic that Templeton brings back newspaper clippings written by humans that will be recycled to trick humans. White is pointing out that words taken out of context can mean a multitude of different things. Even though people who come to see Wilbur will associate 'Radiant' with him when the word appears in the web, we are reminded here that words have a large number of possible meanings if we are open to our own perceptions of them and that there never ever has to be one universal meaning for anything.