Who is Charlotte in "Charlotte's Web"?


Quick Answer

Charlotte A. Cavatica is a talking gray barn spider who writes messages in her web for Wilbur the pig, his farm-girl friend Fern, Templeton the rat and other characters in E. B. White’s novel “Charlotte’s Web.” A Newbery Honor book and winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, the novel is a classic of children’s literature.

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Full Answer

Charlotte the spider is one of the most famous characters in American literature. She is based on a specimen of Araneus cavaticus, an orb spider that White observed in his own barn and farmyard. Though the story is told mostly from the perspective of Fern Arable, who saves the runt pig Wilbur and nurses him back to health, Charlotte is both teacher and sage. When Wilbur is depressed because he’s been moved from the house to the farmyard, Charlotte cheers him up with the first message in her web – “Some Pig.” Her writing turns Farmer Zuckerman into something of a local celebrity as Fern and the farm animals try to save Wilbur from slaughter. Three more messages – "Terrific," "Radiant" and "Humble" – encourage Zuckerman to consider Wilbur’s unique qualities and enter him in the county fair.

Charlotte is also a voice that White uses to speak about coming of age. With Charlotte’s help, Wilbur wins the fair’s blue ribbon and becomes a beloved pet. This fulfills her promise to him and Fern that she’d save Wilbur’s life. However, the friends must also cope with Charlotte’s death from old age. The story comes full circle when her babies hatch, and the farmyard has more spiders.

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