Charlotte’s Web

by

E. B. White

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Charlotte’s Web can help.

Charlotte’s Web: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After the sun starts to set and the fairgrounds grow dark and shadowy, Templeton creeps out of Wilbur’s crate and begins exploring. As he sets out, Charlotte, who has started weaving a new web, calls out to him to “bring [her] back a word”—she tells him that she is “writing tonight for the last time.” The cool of the evening is welcome, and as the Ferris wheel’s lights illuminate the night, Fern meets up with her friend Henry Fussy and rides it alongside him. As Mrs. Arable catches sight of Fern and Henry up at the top of the wheel, she feels happiness and relief that Fern is making friends.
This passage shows how the human world and the animal world exist alongside each other. Humans and animals delight in similar things—a cool evening, a new experience—and are not as different as one might think they are. Fern’s burgeoning friendship with Henry Fussy signals that she is, however, leaving behind her preoccupation with the natural world, and giving herself over to the human one—she may even forget the lessons she has learned during her time with the animals.
Themes
The Natural World  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Templeton raids the fairgrounds for scraps of food, and then brings Charlotte a piece of newspaper. The word on it is “humble,” and Charlotte determines that it is the perfect word as it means both “not proud” and “near the ground”—both things describe Wilbur. Templeton heads back out to the fairgrounds to “make a night of it,” knowing it will be a night of feasting he’ll remember for the rest of his life.
Templeton helps Charlotte out only begrudgingly—he is a selfish creature, determined to provide only for himself and be beholden to no one.
Themes
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Natural World  Theme Icon
Charlotte gets back to work and finishes her web, but in the dark of the night, no one notices. The Zuckermans and Arables pile into the truck and drive home for the night, and Wilbur feels grateful to have Charlotte’s company in their absence. As he drifts off to sleep, he asks Charlotte to sing him a song, but she says she can’t—she is too tired. Wilbur notices that her voice isn’t coming from her web, and he is shocked that she has left it—she almost never does. Wilbur asks Charlotte if she thinks he’ll really be allowed to live, and Charlotte replies that after Wilbur’s big win tomorrow, there will be nothing to fear.
Though Charlotte is feeling tired and worn out, she continues to bolster Wilbur’s confidence and reassure him in times of worry. She is a true friend, and her devotion to him even in a difficult moment in her own life shows just how much she cares for him.
Themes
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Mortality and Rebirth Theme Icon
The Natural World  Theme Icon
Wilbur asks Charlotte what she’s doing, and she says only that she’s “making something.” When Wilbur asks if it’s something for him, Charlotte replies that she’s making something for herself “for a change.” She tells Wilbur that in the morning, she will show him her “masterpiece.”
Charlotte acknowledges in this passage—for the first time, and with a slightly snappish energy—that with as much work as she’s been doing for Wilbur, she should be allowed to have at least a small something to herself.
Themes
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Natural World  Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Get the entire Charlotte’s Web LitChart as a printable PDF.
Charlotte’s Web PDF