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“Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
1 What is a runt? Explore the extended meanings of this term.How does this portray
the differences between parents and children? Are their values different? Explain.
2 How are Fern's fears very like Wilbur's? Are they also similar to Hansel's and
Gretel's? Do Fern's fears extend beyond the immediate problem? Explore the
3 What is the meaning of the chapter "Escape"? What are the dynamics involved in this
chapter? What, for example, does Wilbur decide to do? Why does he give up his
freedom? This is an example of a dynamic tension, conflict, or polarity within the work.
4 Describe the character of Templeton? How does what Templeton does differ from
Charlotte's work? from the other animals? Explore the nature of "ratness."
5 Children's literature can best be understood by examining important episodes. One
such episode is in Chapter 5 (39-42) in which the characters discuss the importance of
food. Discuss how food is a metaphor in the book.
6 Discuss the importance of Wilbur's failure to be able to spin a web? Connect this to
your previous discussions of Templeton and being a runt. In this context, what does
"versatility" mean (116-17)? Its value?
7 How is Charlotte's tale about her cousin connected to the story's theme? Explain the
value of her identity as shown in the following paragraph. "I am not entirely happy about
my diet of flies and bugs, but it's the way I'm made. . . . Way back for thousands and
thousands of years we spiders have been laying for flies and bugs.
8 Look closely at the death of Charlotte. What is the dynamic connection between
Charlotte's magnum opus, her death, and the everyone's role? "Is it a plaything?"
"Plaything? I should say not. It is my egg sac, my magnum opus."
9 Explore the significance of the last paragraph of the book. "Wilbur never forgot
Charlotte. . . . 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."
10 What is the meaning of the title of the book? Think of the implication when we say
we are reading Charlotte's Web.