Charlotte's Web

Plot summary

After her father spares the life of a piglet from slaughtering it as runt of the litter, a little girl named Fern Arable nurtures the piglet lovingly, naming him Wilbur. On greater maturity, Wilbur is sold to Fern's uncle, Homer Zuckerman, in whose barnyard he is left yearning for companionship but is snubbed by other barn animals, until befriended by a barn spider named Charlotte, living on a web overlooking Wilbur's enclosure. Upon Wilbur's discovery that he is intended for slaughter, she promises to hatch a plan guaranteed to spare his life. Accordingly she secretly weaves praise of him into her web, attracting publicity among Zuckerman's neighbors who attribute the praise to divine intervention. As time passes, more inscriptions appear on Charlotte's webs, increasing his renown. Therefore Wilbur is entered in the county fair, accompanied by Charlotte and the rat Templeton, whom she employs in gathering inspiration for her messages. There, Charlotte spins an egg sac containing her unborn offspring, and Wilbur, despite winning no prizes, is later celebrated by the fair's staff and visitors (thus made too prestigious alive, to justify killing him). Exhausted apparently by laying eggs, Charlotte remains at the fair and dies shortly after Wilbur's departure. Having returned to Zuckerman's farm, Wilbur guards Charlotte's egg sac, and is saddened further when the new spiders depart shortly after hatching. The three smallest remain, however. Pleased at finding new friends, Wilbur names the spiderlings Joy, Nellie, and Aranea, and the book concludes by mentioning that more generations of spiders kept him company in subsequent years.

This content is from Wikipedia. GradeSaver is providing this content as a courtesy until we can offer a professionally written study guide by one of our staff editors. We do not consider this content professional or citable. Please use your discretion when relying on it.