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' is a much-loved children's novel written by E.B. White and published in 1952. It follows Wilbur the pig, and Charlotte the spider. 

Although it received less than ideal praise when it was first released, today, it is regarded as one of the best children’s novels ever written. It utilizes personified farm animals, including a rat, a spider, and Wilbur, the pig. They all work together in an effort to save Wilbur from his upcoming Christmas fate.

Spoiler-Free Summary 

The novel follows Wilbur, the pig who, when he’s born, is the smallest of his litter. The farmer’s daughter, Fern, saves him and takes care of him until he’s too old to live with the family, and her parents become concerned that she’s spending too much time with animals and not enough time with her peers. He moves into a new home on a new farm and eventually learns a startling fate.

He won’t be allowed to live out his days in peace, instead, he and the other farm animals need to find a way to prevent the Zuckerman family from slaughtering Wilbur at Christmas. They come up with a creative solution that changes the way the farmers see their animals.

The novel is well-loved for its depiction of friendship, love, and the importance of helping those in need. Today, it’s read by children and adults around the world and has been the source of inspiration for television shows and films. 

Full Summary of Charlotte’s Web

Spoiler alert: important details of the novel are revealed below.

When the novel begins, a young eight-year-old girl named Fern saves a runt pig on her parents’ farm. She stops her parents from killing the small creature, chastising them for wanting to kill an animal just because it’s smaller and weaker than its siblings. She names the pig Wilbur and takes care of him until he is too big. He’s sold to the Zuckerman’s who owns a nearby farm. They buy him for six dollars, and Fern visits him as often as she can.

Wilbur and Fern get older, and Wilbur feels bored and friendless without his young human companion. Soon, he meets a spider named Charlotte, who lives on the web above Wilbur’s pen. He’s excited to have someone to talk to but also notices how different they are from one another.

Wilbur seems to be the only one on the farm who doesn’t realize that his owners are planning to slaughter him for Christmas dinner. Soon, summer arrives, and Fern continues to visit her pig friend. He’s growing larger, and finally, one of the sheep tells him that he’s going to be slaughtered to make ham and bacon. Wilbur is, of course, terrified and hopes that someone will save him from his fate. 

Charlotte, the spider, decides that she is going to come up with a plan to save Wilbur. She destroys part of her web and starts remaking it with a specific message aimed at the farmers. She writes out the words “Some pig!” in the web.

Everyone on the farm is astonished by this event, and people come from all over the country to see Wilbur. The farm animals work to think of more words to write in Charlotte’s Web. She eventually uses the word “terrific” and people arrive from the surrounding areas to see Wilbur. Inspired by paper ads, she also writes the word “radiant.” 

Near the end of summer, all the characters go to a fair, including Charlotte and Templeton the rat, who hide themselves in Wilbur’s crate so that they can accompany him. Charlotte builds the web above Wilbur’s pen, and they all make friends with another pig named uncle. Templeton brings back a scrap of newspaper with the word “humble” as inspiration for Charlotte. 

The next morning, Charlotte is revealed to have made an egg sack with 514 eggs. She knows that she probably won’t survive to meet her children. It’s also discovered that Uncle has won first prize at the fair.

Wilbur eventually receives a special third-place medal and faints from excitement. Charlotte tells Wilbur that she’s going to die soon, and Wilbur asks Templeton to retrieve her egg sack from Wilbur’s crate. The next day Charlotte passes away. 

Back at the farm with the egg sac, Wilbur takes care of it throughout the winter until tiny spiders begin crawling out of it. Each young spider eventually moves away from Wilbur’s stall, except for three of Charlotte’s daughters, who decide to stay with Wilbur and be his friend. They continue to reproduce, creating a cycle of spider-pig friendships that last for years. 


What is Charlotte’s Web about? 

Charlotte’s Web tells the story of a young pig named Wilbur, who is saved from certain death by a resourceful spider named Charlotte. The book follows Wilbur and Charlotte’s friendship as they find creative ways to keep Wilbur safe from Farmer Zuckerman.

 Is Charlotte’s Web suitable for all ages?

Charlotte’s Web is suitable for readers of all ages. While it has some more mature themes, its message of friendship, loyalty, and courage is appropriate for readers of all ages.

Who wrote Charlotte’s Web?

Charlotte’s Web was written by E.B. White, who was born in Mount Vernon, New York, in 1899. It was first published in 1952 and is considered to be E.B. White’s masterpiece. But he also wrote other children’s novels, like Stuart Little, that are also loved by young readers around the world.

Why is Charlotte’s Web important? 

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White is an important work of literature for its timeless and powerful story about friendship, loyalty, and perseverance. It teaches valuable lessons about love and acceptance, as well as the importance of helping those in need and standing up for what is right.

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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