About the Book

Book Protagonist: Wilbur
Publication Date: 1952
Genre: Children, Coming of Age, Literary Fiction, Teen and Young Adult


Charlotte's Web

By E.B. White

'Charlotte’s Web' by E.B. White is filled with incredible quotes on a series of important themes, including friendship, love, and change. 

The novel is well-loved by children and adults alike for its important messages regarding loving all the creatures of the world, not judging based on looks, and honoring friendship and family above everything else. Readers are taught important lessons about all of these topics while reading about Charlotte and Wilbur’s interactions and how they work together. 


Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.

In this quote, the author conveys an interaction between Wilbur and Charlotte. The former doesn’t know what it is he could’ve possibly done in order to “deserve” Charlotte’s loyalty and kindness. But Charlotte has a very simple answer: friendship. She’s only returning what Wilbur gave her and what is right to do. Just being kind to someone and making a friend is a “tremendous” thing, she says. This is one of the most important lessons of the novel and the primary reason that it is such a favorite of young children and their parents. 

Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

Although they weren’t friends for too long, Wilbur is never going to forget Charlotte, this quote says. She changed his life and saved his life, and he always has her to thank for that. The “new spiders,” her children, were soothing to have around, but she was a “class by herself.” No one could ever replace her. Here, the author is trying to convey the ways that friends change one’s life and that even if a friend is lost and replaced by others, things will never be quite the same again. 

In good time he was to discover that he was mistaken about Charlotte. Underneath her rather bold and cruel exterior, she had a kind heart, and she was to prove loyal and true to the very end.

This line reflects Wilbur’s initial opinion of Charlotte and how that has changed since he got to know her. She was “true to the very end” despite her “bold and cruel exterior.” Here, White conveys the importance of not judging someone based on how they look. If Wilbur had done that, he probably wouldn’t have lived through the season or grown to know such a good friend. 


The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change.

These lovely lines convey the passage of time and the way the world changes from season to season. Change is another primary theme in this novel that’s seen through Wilbur and Fern’s aging, Charlotte’s death, and the transformation in the natural world from season to season. 

Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch.

This short line describes that life always has something to offer. Even though Charlotte passed away, Wilbur had her egg sack and children to care for. Life always offers up new possibilities and new friendships if one is paying attention. 

These autumn days will shorten and grow cold. The leaves will shake loose from the trees and fall. Christmas will come, then the snows of winter. You will live to enjoy the beauty of the frozen world, for you mean a great deal to Zuckerman and he will not harm you, ever.

In these lines, the theme of change is conveyed quite clearly. The author also wanted to indicate that although the world changes, there are some things, like true friendship, that never disappear. 

Caring for Others 

Fern was up at daylight, trying to rid the world of injustice. As a result, she now has a pig. A small one to be sure, but nevertheless a pig. It just shows what can happen if a person gets out of bed promptly.

These lines are from the beginning of the novel and describe how Fern’s good deed came about because she was paying attention and wanted to save a life. If she hadn’t cared about the fate of a single, small piglet, the novel’s story would’ve been very different. 

It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure, and the glory of everything.

This image-rich passage describes the beauty of the natural world and asks readers to remember the glory of “everything.” From the food to the season to the sun and all the creatures around him, Wilbur appreciates life and what it has to offer. 


What are the four messages on Charlotte’s web?

The four messages that Charlotte writes on her web are “Some pig,” “terrific,” “radiant,” and “humble.” She is inspired to include each based on newspaper clippings that Templeton the rat finds for her. 

What is Charlotte’s Web’s main message?

The main message of Charlotte’s Web is the importance of friendships and not judging based on appearances. Charlotte doesn’t initially come across as someone that Wilbur would be friends with, but that all changes when he gets to know her, and she’s willing to work to save his life. 

What is Charlotte’s fancy way of saying hello?

When Wilbur and Charlotte first meet, she uses the word “Salutation.” The voice comes from above Wilbur’s pen, and he’s initially scared. He doesn’t know what the word means, but Charlotte explains it, and they slowly become friends. 

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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