Charlotte’s Web


E. B. White

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Themes and Colors
Friendship and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Mortality and Rebirth Theme Icon
The Natural World  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Charlotte’s Web, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Friendship and Sacrifice

E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web centers around the tender, life-changing friendship between a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte. Fittingly, the book’s central theme is friendship—specifically the ways in which true friendship often involves self-sacrifice. Throughout his classic children’s novel about the sacredness of kindness, love, and solidarity, White uses the many different kinds of friendships at the heart of the story to suggest that the rarest and truest of friends are those…

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Mortality and Rebirth

Despite being a children’s book, Charlotte’s Web also has many important lessons to teach on the subject of mortality. E.B. White infuses the novel with happy moments of friendship, play, and the beauty of the natural world, while also communicating frightening lessons about sacrifice, growing up, and, most acutely, the idea of death as a necessary, normal part of life. Through the lives of his animal characters, E.B. White shows his young readers that though…

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The Natural World

Throughout Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White swings back and forth between the human world and the animal world with supreme ease. The narrative relays the joys and concerns of its human characters’ lives just as easily as it inhabits and enlivens the inner lives and thoughts of pigs, spiders, and rats. Through the book, White argues that the mysterious workings of the natural world and the lives of animals are just as complex, profound, and…

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Growing Up

Style E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is a unique coming-of-age tale in that it explores what it means to grow up from two very different points of view: Fern Arable, an eight-year-old girl, and Wilbur, a young spring pig. Fern and Wilbur grow up side-by-side but separated by the divide between the human world and the animal world. Nevertheless, they face many of the same challenges and fears as they come into their own…

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