Web of Friendship
(A Book Review of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web)
My first encounter with E.B. White is through this slim book called The Elements of Style, written in part by his former English professor William Strunk Jr., and a tiny thing though it is, nonetheless it packs up a lot of amusing, informative and useful instruction in the elementary usage of grammar and composition. If you’re not familiar yet with the book well, checking this one out is worth your while, Gentle Reader.
E.B. White likewise delights and charms the reader with another short work, this one in fiction, with a gem of storytelling all the same instructive but imparts a rather different lesson this time around.
Charlotte’s Web opens a door to a magical world when one day, on a farm, a young girl by the name of Fern saves a pig, the runt of the litter, from being butchered by his father, Mr. Arable. She persuades him that she’ll take care of it, be responsible for it and names it Wilbur. As days pass and Wilbur gains girth, Mr. Arabel decides that it’s now the time for Fern to let the pig go which she does, sadly and reluctantly selling it to his uncle Homer Zuckerman. The good thing is she can still visit the pig in the barn whenever she can.
Once in the barn, Wilbur make friends with the farm animals and starts to have some fun, yet not for a very long time he feels lonely, leading an ordinary, boring pig life. Then he befriends a beautiful grey spider named Charlotte marking an astonishing point in both their life. But how can this be in face of the bad news that Zuckerman and Lurvy, his farmhand, is plotting to kill him in time for Christmas? Charlotte thinks of a wonderful plan to save Wilbur from a pig’s unhappy fate, yet how can a spider, “about the size of a gumdrop,” can do this? For Charlotte weaving a miracle is what it seems to take.
Among varied characters of a sweet-natured pig, a clever spider, a talkative goose used to to the barnyard ways, a rogue but likeable rat and gullible humans as well, E.B. White snares us with a warm, affectionate tale about friendship, trust and loyalty, adventure and miracle, the blessings of life and the graceful acceptance of death. His short, direct prose — true hallmark of the Strunkian style that every word tell — the book effuses with verve, kindheartedness and humor portrayed by the funny and endearing partnership of a talking pig and spider the basic truths of life are set out for readers young and young-at-heart.
Fittingly enough, E.B. White in his book Charlotte’s Web spun an enduring children’s classic captivating the heart of readers of all ages through generations in exaltting the message “that human beings must always be on the watch for the coming of wonders.”
Book Details: Book #11 for 2011
Published by Scholastic
(Trade Paperback, 1974 Edition )
Read on: April 3, 2011