Charlotte’s Web

by

E. B. White

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Charlotte’s Web: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One evening, Charlotte calls a meeting of all the barn animals. She takes a roll call and finds that everyone is present except for Templeton. Charlotte announces that she has called the meeting in order to get suggestions from the other animals—she needs new ideas for another web in order to keep the momentum going and ensure that Wilbur’s life is safe. The goose suggests writing “terrific” in the web, and Charlotte agrees that the word will impress Homer.
The effort to save Wilbur’s life has been recognized by the human world—and thus Charlotte feels she needs to work even harder to keep her plans in motion. She enlists the help of the other animals now, too, and they gladly agree to help—they are all willing to sacrifice their time and energy for Wilbur.
Themes
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Natural World  Theme Icon
There is one problem with the new idea—none of the animals know how to spell the word terrific. As they debate the spelling, Templeton returns to the barn, and the old sheep asks him if he’d be willing to bring back some newspaper or magazine clippings the next time he goes to the dump so that Charlotte can get more ideas—and the correct spelling—for new words. Templeton says he doesn’t want to help, as he doesn’t care if Wilbur lives or dies, but the sheep points out that Templeton will be sorry if Wilbur dies and there are no leftovers for Templeton to eat. Templeton reluctantly agrees to help the cause.
Templeton represents self-interest and greed. He is only interested in helping out the cause when there’s something in it for him. Even though the other animals are excited to help Charlotte and Wilbur because they believe Wilbur’s life should be saved, Templeton only cares about himself. All of the other animals have been able to overcome their drive for self-preservation above all else and help out the greater good—except for Templeton. 
Themes
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Natural World  Theme Icon
Charlotte adjourns the meeting and starts working on the web. Wilbur worries aloud, once again, that he is not terrific, but Charlotte sweetly tells him that she thinks he, her best friend, is “sensational.”
Even when Wilbur doesn’t feel he’s worthy of everyone’s time and attention, Charlotte assures him that he is.
Themes
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon