One Sunday morning, Mr. Arable and Mrs. Arable are sitting at the breakfast table with Fern. She tells them excitedly about the goings-on over at the Zuckermans’ farm, and relays the conversations she’s been having with her animal friends. Both Mr. and Mrs. Arable are concerned by Fern’s belief that she can communicate with the spiders, and off-put by the quirky personality traits she ascribes each of the barnyard animals.
Fern’s ability to overhear the animals and learn about their lives and thoughts has been up to this point in the novel a beautiful thing taken for granted as fact. Fern’s parents, though, question her abilities and doubt whether spending all her time with animals is good for her.
When Fern goes up to her room to get ready for Sunday school, Mrs. Arable expresses her worry about Fern’s “rambl[ings],” but Mr. Arable assures his wife that Fern simply has a “lively imagination.” Mrs. Arable wonders if she should talk to Dr. Dorian about Fern, but Mr. Arable simply wonders if their ears “aren’t as sharp as Fern’s.”