What Is the Theme of "Charlotte's Web"?

Friendship is the major theme of E.B. White's story, "Charlotte's Web." Friendship and devotion are portrayed in some of the most innocent of circumstances in this story, mostly between farmyard animals who grow to love and depend on each other.

"Charlotte's Web" appears at first to be a story about a young farm girl, Fern, who saves a pig from being killed because he was so small. She nurses him to health, and he soon joins a barnyard full of animals at Fern's uncle's farm. It soon becomes evident, however, that the story is more about the pig named Wilbur and his friend Charlotte, a spider, than it is about Fern.

The friendship between Wilbur and Charlotte is unexpected. "'Well,' [Wilbur] thought, 'I've got a new friend, all right. But what a gamble friendship is! Charlotte is fierce, brutal, scheming, bloodthirsty - everything I don't like. How can I learn to like her, even though she is pretty and, of course, clever?'"

Charlotte and Wilbur form a strong and enduring bond that transcends even death. Charlotte works tirelessly using her web-weaving talents to make sure that Wilbur wins an award at the fair, saving his life. As Charlotte approaches the end of her life, she leaves behind an egg sac full of baby spiders. Wilbur is heartbroken at the prospect of losing this friend who has stood beside him for so long. When Charlotte dies, Wilbur greets her offspring and becomes their friend just as their mother was his. He does the same with the next generation as well. His love for Charlotte makes him a loyal friend long after she is gone. Wilbur learns that friendships are not all about first impressions.