Study Guide

Charlotte's Web What's Up With the Ending?

By E. B. White

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What's Up With the Ending?

Talk about a bittersweet ending. Here's why we're thinking the end of this book is one part sad and one part happy:

  • Hand us the tissues because…Charlotte dies. Alone. Do we have to say more? We'd gotten pretty attached to this spider and weren't ready to let her go. 
  • Color us happy because…Charlotte has children. And then they have children. And then there're oodles of grandkids and great grandkids! So even though Charlotte is gone, her family lives on, year after year. And that's pretty cool.

So Charlotte's Web starts with a birth (Wilbur, the spring pig!). And it ends with a death (Charlotte's)… but also lots of births (spider babies!). This ending sure has us thinking about the circle of life. (Go check out the "Mortality" theme for more musings, and then head back here.)

But even with all the new spider babies, no one could ever replace Charlotte. She's a one-of-a-kind gal. And that's what the last paragraph reminds us:

"Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. 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." (22.69)

We're so happy Wilbur had such a good friend. And we're so sad that she is gone. But now it's your turn. What do you think: is the ending meant to be happy or sad?

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