Mrs Kinton’s Book Club – Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White (Chapters 16-18)

Hi everyone – hope you’re all doing okay and are still managing to keep up with some reading here and there. I’ve left off updating the chapters for a couple of weeks for some of you to be able to catch up. I love that so many of you are enjoying it and sharing your thoughts with me in school. Please feel free to share them here too if you’re not in school yet, we’d all love to get your opinion on how you’re interpreting the story. For those of you who love writing, creating, imagining and winning prizes, head over to my last post, which tells you all about the ‘Family Fairy Tale Writing Competition’ which I launched last week. The deadline to submit is the 17th July 2020 – so there’s still plenty of time to get scribbling. So… without further ado, let’s get on with chapters 16-18 of Charlotte’s Web – it’s getting tense!

Chapter 16 – Off to the Fair

  1. The night before the fair, everyone seems to dream about what might happen.  Fern dreams she gets sick on the swings!  She doesn’t dream about Wilbur, which makes me wonder if he has become less important to her than he once was.  Have you ever been to a fair and got sick on a ride?  Which is your favourite ride at the fair?
  • The morning of the fair is all hustle and bustle!  Everyone is busy readying things in one way or another.  Right at the last minute Charlotte and Templeton decide to join Wilbur in his crate.  Why do they suddenly decide to go to the fair with him?
  • Wilbur is once again horrified at the thought of being eaten!  Fainting when he overhears Mr. Arable’s remark about what good bacon and ham he will make.  Once revived, Wilburn makes an almighty fuss about being put into the crate, which ultimately reassures the humans that his is not in fact sick at all.  Why do you think Wilbur does this?

This chapter feels like there’s a real sense of change about to occur.  There is repetition of occurrences of the before and after.  It’s a pivotal point of everything that has been and all that will occur.

Chapter 17 – Uncle

  1. Wilbur, and the unseen Charlotte and Templeton, arrive at the fair.  There is no real explanation as to why Wilbur has been taken to the fair, and it is only in this chapter that we learn that farmers take livestock to rural fairs to enter them into competitions and to be judged.  Have you ever been to a farmers fair?
  • Charlotte’s Web is set in rural America during the 1950’s.  The reader can see this through the ‘one-ounce candy bar’ only costing a ‘nickel’.  They cost far more now-a-days.  Fern and Avery instantly start asking for spending money and get given 70 cents.  If you went to a fair, how much money do you think you would be given to play with and would you be allowed to run off with just a warning to be careful? 
  • Crowds watch as Wilbur is put into a temporary pen, which has a much bigger pig called ‘Uncle’ in the pen next door.   Charlotte crawls over to Uncle’s pen to investigate him more closely and concludes that he’s ‘going to be a hard pig to beat.’  Have you ever entered a competition? 

With all the readers and the humans within the book now believing that Wilbur truly is a remarkable pig – and with him now being compared to Uncle, which seems quite unpleasant – it’s hard to believe Wilbur even has the slightest chance in winning.  Many fairgoers stop to see Wilbur and are impressed by him but seem more impressed by Uncle’s size.  But E.B. White doesn’t worry the reader too much with Uncle’s better chances – just because he is bigger – doesn’t’ necessarily mean he is better. 

Chapter 18 – In the Cool of the Evening

  1. That evening Templeton sets off to investigate the fair.  Charlotte asks him to bring back a word, adding she’ll be writing her last web-word tonight.  She mentions this a few times throughout this chapter but nobody seems to take notice.  Since Templeton fails to respond and Wilbur is asleep, nobody questions her.  How did it make you feel and what did you think Charlotte meant by it?  Why do you think this will be the last time Charlotte writes in her web?
  • On his return, Templeton unrolls the piece of paper, revealing the word ‘Humble’.  What does this word mean?
  • Charlotte repeatedly says that she’s too tired to sing and too tired to talk, she can only concentrate her energy on creating the word in her web.  Here even Wilbur starts to notice Charlotte’s increasing frailty.  Have you ever felt so tired you couldn’t talk?  What do you think is happening to Charlotte in this chapter?

While all this is going on in the crate, Fern is too busy growing up to even think about Wilbur.  Mrs Arable is delighted when her daughter runs off to the Ferris wheel with her friend Henry Fussy and when she announces later at home that she has had the best time she’s ever had ‘anywhere or any time in all of [her] whole life’, it becomes clear to the reader that poor Wilbur has moved down her ‘best times’ list since chapter 15, where he was noted as her favourite living thing.  There is such a feeling of change in these chapters – which in some ways feels quite unsettling – but as with all things in life nothing is permanent, change is unavoidable and inevitable and although the unknown is often scary, it’s not always bad – more often than not, a lot of good comes from change.

Can’t wait to hear what you all thought about these three chapters. 

See you next week for the final four chapters 19, 20, 21 and 22.  Any recommendations for our next book would be wonderful.

#KS2 #LoveReading #KeepReading #BookClub #AmReading

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