Day after day, Charlotte sits in her web deep in thought, trying to come up with a way to save Wilbur. Charlotte is “naturally patient,” and never stresses or worries. Very early one morning, in the middle of July, the “perfectly simple” idea comes to her—she has come up with a way to fool the “gullible” humans. As Charlotte watches Wilbur sleep, she knows she must act quickly—summer is half gone, and Charlotte doesn’t “have much time” left.
Charlotte’s calm and patient nature comes in handy in this passage as she confronts the fact of her own imminent mortality. Charlotte knows her lifespan is short—but is determined to make the most of what time she does have left, and devote it all to saving Wilbur.
Later that morning, Fern and Avery come to the Zuckermans’ and go up to the house to join Edith for pie. Avery has a frog in his hand and Fern is wearing a daisy chain in her hair. When the frog gets loose in the kitchen and hops around, Edith shoos the children from the house, and they run off to the barn to swing on the giant rope which hangs from the ceiling. After tiring of swinging, the children spend some time exploring the fields and eating berries, and then Fern heads back up to the barn to spend time with Wilbur. Avery joins her, and when he sees Charlotte hanging from the barn door, he becomes determined to catch her. Fern begs Avery to stop, but he begins climbing up on Wilbur’s through to reach her web.
Fern and Avery love the natural world deeply, but in very different ways. Fern longs to appreciate it and adorn herself with it, while Avery wants to possess it and control it. He collects animals and tries to keep them in his pockets—and when he tries to claim Charlotte as his new prize, he is unaware of the careful balance he’s disturbing in doing so.
Just as Avery is about to catch Charlotte, Wilbur’s trough tips over—crushing Templeton’s goose egg and releasing a horrible stink into the air. Avery runs away, laughing, and Fern follows him, clutching her nose and crying. The smell—and the story behind it—spread quickly across the farm, and all the animals lament the stench. When Lurvy comes out to bring Wilbur his dinner, he smells the rotten egg and discovers Templeton’s nest. He kicks dirt into the hole, burying all of Templeton’s possessions, and feeds Wilbur.
This passage shows how sometimes—just sometimes—nature conspires to protect itself. Though Avery’s releasing of the “stink bomb” is a happy accident, the destruction of the egg serves to save Charlotte. This scene also how little care humans may have for the natural world, as Lurvy so quickly destroys Templeton’s nest.
Wilbur laps up all of his food, and by the time he is finished, the stench in the barn has diminished somewhat due to Lurvy’s burying off the egg. That evening, as the other animals begin to drowse and drop off into sleep, Charlotte sets to work. She tears out a section in the middle of her web and starts weaving something new in its place.
Perhaps motivated by her own close brush with death, Charlotte diligently sets to work on her plan to save Wilbur.