Charlotte’s Web

by

E. B. White

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Charlotte’s Web: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As the days pass by, Charlotte weaves and re-weaves her webs each time one of her prey disturbs its threads. Wilbur admires Charlotte’s hard work and special talents, and begins wishing that he could spin a web, too. Charlotte amusedly begins instructing Wilbur in the steps while Fern chuckles along. Wilbur jumps around the barn with a piece of string borrowed from Templeton tied to his tail He has fun at first, but soon grows frustrated and begins to cry when he falls in front of all the other animals after jumping off a bale of hay. Wilbur admits that he just wants to be as clever as Charlotte, and was trying to show off.
Wilbur loves Charlotte so much that he longs to be like her. It’s not just that Charlotte is smart and dexterous—it’s that she is wise, calm, and mature in ways Wilbur is not. In trying to emulate his friend, Wilbur demonstrates just how much he admires Charlotte and wants to learn from her.
Themes
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
As twilight settles over the barn, Fern knows it is getting near time to leave, but can hardly “bear” leaving her friends. As the pleasant sounds and smells of dusk fill the bar, Wilbur remembers the old sheep’s warning, and whispers to Charlotte that he doesn’t want to die—he loves “everything about this place.” Charlotte reminds Wilbur of her promise—she is not going to let him die and is hard at work on a plan for how to save him. 
Even though Wilbur has learned more and more this summer about the cruelty and brutality of the natural world, he still finds his life beautiful and longs to keep living it.
Themes
Mortality and Rebirth Theme Icon
The Natural World  Theme Icon
Wilbur asks if he can do anything to help with the plan, and Charlotte encourages Wilbur to eat a lot, get plenty of sleep, stay healthy, and stop worrying. After going back out to his trough to eat some scraps, Wilbur bids Charlotte goodnight—still nervous about his fate. Fern heads for home as Wilbur settles in for the evening, “her mind full of everything she ha[s] seen and heard.”
Wilbur is not the only one feeling both disturbed and helpless in the face of his impending death—Fern, too, is getting nervous about her friend’s fate but is unsure of how to help.
Themes
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Mortality and Rebirth Theme Icon
The Natural World  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon