Charlotte’s Web

by

E. B. White

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Charlotte’s Web: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next day, Fern is helping her mother with the dishes. She tells Mrs. Arable all about Charlotte and Wilbur—the beautiful friendship they have, and the stories Charlotte often shares. Mrs. Arable tells Fern that animals can’t talk, and accuses her of making all her barnyard stories up. Mrs. Arable urges Fern to play outside with Avery and their schoolmates rather than spending all her time “alone” in the barn. Fern insists, though, that she isn’t alone—the animals make the barn a “very sociable place.” Fern finishes the dishes and goes off to the Zuckermans’. Mrs. Arable decides that it is time to pay a visit to Dr. Dorian, and heads into town to his office.
Even though Fern assures her mother that she’s happy in the barn, and that she isn’t feeling lonely at all, Mrs. Arable thinks there’s something unnatural about Fern shirking the human world. She wants for her daughter to grow up amongst people like her, and to participate in the “real” world—she doesn’t understand that Fern is indeed learning important lessons from her animal friends every day.
Themes
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Natural World  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
At Dr. Dorian’s office, the doctor listens as Mrs. Arable airs her fears about Fern’s abnormal involvement with the animals at the Zuckerman farm. Dr. Dorian is not concerned, though—he says that Fern must be having an “enchanting” time at the barn with the famous pig Wilbur and all of his other barnyard friends. Dr. Dorian has heard the news about the mysterious webs on the farm, and points out that it’s not the words appearing on them that are a “miracle”—the miracle is the web itself. Dr. Dorian admits that even as a doctor, he doesn’t know a lot about the mysteries of life—he concedes that he can’t discount Fern’s tales of talking animals, as “perhaps if people talked less, animals would talk more.”
Dr. Dorian is more in Mr. Arable’s camp than Mrs. Arable’s. He, too, believes that Fern’s involvement with the animals is actually healthy for her, and that she’s perhaps even learning things from them that the human world could never offer her. This reflects the importance of cultivating respect for and appreciation of the natural world.
Themes
The Natural World  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Dr. Dorian assures Mrs. Arable that as long as Fern is happy, healthy, and feeling well, she is more than fine. Dr. Dorian tells Mrs. Arable that Fern, a girl of eight, will probably be much more interested in playing with her human friends—and boys like her classmate Henry Fussy—soon enough, but her childhood and its fancies shouldn’t be rushed. “It’s amazing how children,” he says, “change from year to year.” At the end of the visit, Mrs. Arable leaves his office feeling relieved. 
Mrs. Arable is relieved after talking to the doctor, and willing to allow her daughter a little more agency in her decisions. Mrs. Arable hasn’t been convinced of the benefits of a life immersed in nature by nature itself, though, but rather by another human. As the novel goes on, Mrs. Arable’s preconceptions about nature will be challenged, and she herself will be forced into a kind of growing up.
Themes
The Natural World  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon