I hope you’re all still enjoying reading Charlotte’s Web. I know a lot of you are reading it alongside other books which is amazing. I often have a couple of books on the go. At the moment I am dipping in and out of a well-read book called ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ and I’m also reading George Orwell’s ‘1984’. So, let’s take a look at chapters 10, 11 and 12 of Charlottes Web and see if you can answer some of these questions.
Chapter 10 – An Explosion
- After waiting patiently for an idea, Charlotte suddenly realizes how she can save Wilbur’s life. All she needs to do is play a trick on Mr Zuckerman. ‘If I can fool a bug,’ she thinks, ‘I can surely fool a man.’ Have you ever played a trick on someone – if so how?
- A little later, Fern and her brother, Avery, wander over to the farm. After pestering their aunt for a few minutes, they head to the barn to use the rope swing and then pick raspberries. Finally, Fern decides to visit Wilbur. Have you ever visited a farm and if so what adventures did you get up to?
- I nearly forgot about the rotten egg which E.B. White added into Chapter 6. But E.B. White planned very well and planted the rotten egg there for this very moment. When the children reach the pigpen, Avery notices Charlotte in her web. He attempts to catch her but loses balance (thank goodness), landing on Wilbur’s trough. The rotten goose egg under the trough explodes, and a terrible smell fills the air. Have you ever smelt a rotten egg? Could you describe what it smells like?
When I read this chapter I learnt a lot about Avery’s character. When we first meet him he is ‘heavily armed’ and in this chapter, we learn his complete disregard for animal’s feelings – he just wants the creature – spider or frog. He doesn’t seem to know that animals can talk and none of the barn-animals attempt to call Avery away from trying to reach Charlotte. Thank goodness E.B. White had planted the rotten goose egg to stop Avery in his tracks. I also thought a lot about how E.B. White portrays Templeton. His obnoxious traits seem to shrink and his pride seems to swell as his rotten egg saves the day.
Chapter 11 – The Miracle
- Why do you think this chapter is called ‘The Miracle’?
- The next day is foggy. When Lurvy brings Wilbur’s breakfast, he notices Charlotte’s web, which is glistening with dew. Then he notices in the centre of the web the words ‘SOME PIG’. What would you do if you saw a word spun into a spider’s web?
- The farmers and their families seem impressed by what Charlotte has written and agree that Wilbur certainly is ‘SOME PIG’. Charlotte’s plan is beginning to work. Both the minister and Mr Zuckerman chose to publicise the miracle and, to me, seem to use the news to boost their own self-importance. The Zuckerman’s change Lurvy’s job, with his main task being to feed Wilbur in front of an audience and the minister preaches a sermon about the web. Do you think this fuss is what Charlotte expected or wanted and do you think this settles Wilbur’s safety issues?
The Minster preaches that the words in the web are ‘the coming of wonders’ basically a ‘miracle’, which, we, the readers know, the words prove no such thing. We know that Charlotte had planned the entire event. Mr Zuckerman and the minister are trying desperately to understand and give meaning to the event, which they can never ever understand. Nature itself is the real miracle here.
Chapter 12 – A Meeting
- Charlotte calls a barn meeting. She needs a new word to spin into her web. They settle on the word ‘terrific’ but Wilbur says he is not terrific. Charlotte then tells Wilbur ‘that doesn’t make a particle of difference’ and explains that ‘people believe almost anything they see in print’. What does Charlotte mean by this and do you think that it’s true? Do people believe almost anything they see in print and can you give an example?
- Templeton does not seem to be a character that can be changed. When asked to forage for old bits of advertisements for Charlotte to find a new word to spin, he refuses to go, until the oldest sheep points out that if Wilbur dies, he won’t have any leftover slops to eat. ‘Wilbur’s destiny and your destiny are closely linked’ the old sheep explains. Other than both Templeton and Wilbur loving food and being quite greedy creatures, what else do you think links them?
I think this chapter shows the other barn animals really coming together for Wilbur. The old sheep is kinder than the last time we met her. E.B. White also seems to be creating a sense of Charlotte running an advertising campaign based on human gullibility or naivety, which I love. Adverts and miracles can stem from the same force when people are led to really believe in something, just as this book does with pushing compassion and understanding.
Can’t wait to hear what you all thought about these three chapters.
See you next week for chapters 13, 14, and 15.