Remembering Charlotte, Wilbur, And White
“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.”
Remember all that… and more? That delightful little book called ‘Charlotte’s Web?’ Well, the iconic book that E.B. White wrote in 1952 is turned 60 years this week. 60 years of pure entertainment, and generations of people who read and fell in love with Zukerman’s barn, its animals, clever and loyal Charlotte and, of course, adorable little Wilbur.
Inspired By A Real Barn
As it turns out, E.B. White lived on a farm in Maine. And once, across a barn door, he noticed a spider. And began to observe it closely. Apparently, White studied spiders for over a year before even beginning to write the book. “Once you begin watching spiders, you haven’t time for much else,” White has written.
White’s biographer Michael Sims has said in an interview with NPR, “One of the pigs he was raising died," Sims says, "and while he was carrying the pails of slops every day to the replacement pig in the barn, he noticed there was a spider attending its web every day, expanding the web, rebuilding what had happened the night before. And then one day he saw that it had spun an egg case." Apparently he carried the egg case with him and waited for the babies to hatch, watching the whole cycle in fascination.
A Story for the Ages
White was a diligent researcher, and a brilliant writer, it turned out. While he studied spiders extensively, and read numerous books about them, he knew exactly how he wanted to portray Charlotte. Well, not only Charlotte. White wanted to portray the whole barn and the animals in it, in character.
Charlotte’s Web is much more than a story of friendship and the sadness of death. It is also about the power of words and the difference they can make in people’s lives. While Charlotte’s friendship meant a lot to Wilbur, it was the words Charlotte used to describe him that eventually saved his life. This powerful story and its morals continue to impact every generation.
And this week, that barn tale turns 60 years. You’ve read the book too, we presume? If so, share your thoughts and let us know what touched you the most in the story. If not, well, no better time than right now to begin it!