Study Guide

The Barn Animals in Charlotte's Web

By E. B. White

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The Barn Animals

There are a handful of animals in the Zuckerman barn that never get names. But that doesn't mean they're not important. We'll let you in on who these unnamed animal actors are:

First, there's the goose, the gander, and their little goslings. And oh boy does the goose like to gab. Sometimes, she can be a nice chatty friend. But she's also really busy sitting on her eggs until they hatch. This means she can't spend all day socializing, so sometimes she can be a bit harsh to Wilbur.

Then we have the sheep and some lambs. The lambs can be super rude, like when they tell Wilbur he smells. Or when one lamb says "Pigs mean less than nothing to me" (4.28). Yeah, that's not nice. (We're wondering how good the lambs smell, personally. We've seen barnyard lambs, and they don't look very clean to us.)

Even the old sheep can be borderline rude too. She's the one who first tells Wilbur that he needs to worry about staying alive in the first place: "'Well, I don't like to spread bad news,' said the sheep, 'but they're fattening you up because they're going to kill you, that's why'" (7.10). The sheep sure doesn't sound sympathetic here. But over time she also offers good ideas on how to save Wilbur's life, so we warm up to her a little.

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