Charlotte’s Web


E. B. White

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Charlotte’s Web: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

The next day is dark, rainy, and gloomy, and Wilbur’s whole routine for the day—breakfast, talking with Templeton the rat, napping outdoors in the sun, digging holes, and watching the birds and insects—is ruined. Wilbur feels bored and intensely lonely, and begins crying about how monotonous and solitary most of his days are. He is so depressed that he barely even touches the breakfast of slops Lurvy lays out for him—he wants love, not food.
Wilbur is a social pig, and has grown dependent on the attention and affection he gets from Fern. Emotional and given to dramatic behavior, Wilbur experiences any slight or disappointment as a major event.
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Wilbur asks the goose to play with him, but she insists she needs to sit on her eggs. Wilbur tries to play with a lamb who retorts that pigs “mean less than nothing” to her. Wilbur even tries to engage Templeton the rat, but Templeton insists he doesn’t know what it means to “play.” Wilbur, feeling “friendless, dejected, and hungry,” throws himself into the manure and sobs. In the midst of his misery, though, a small voice comes out of the darkness of the barn, pitying Wilbur for his loneliness. The voice offers to be Wilbur’s friend—Wilbur asks who is speaking to him, but the mysterious voice tells Wilbur to go to sleep; they’ll meet “in the morning.”
Wilbur craves friendship, love, and attention. When denied it, he becomes despondent—but when a strange voice calls out to him, just the prospect of making a new friend is enough to sustain him through a dark, lonely, rainy night.
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