Study Guide

Charlotte's Web Perseverance

By E. B. White

Perseverance

Chapter 1
Fern Arable

"Control myself?" yelled Fern. "This is a matter of life and death, and you talk about controlling myself." Tears ran down her cheeks and she took hold of the ax and tried to pull it out of her father's hand. (1.11)

Fern is one determined little girl. It's got to be dangerous for her to try to grab the ax from her father's hands, but that doesn't stop her from doing everything she can to save the little pig's life. (Wonder what she'd do if Henry Fussy showed up?)

Chapter 6
Charlotte A. Cavatica

When the first gosling poked its grey-green head through the goose's feathers and looked around, Charlotte spied it and made the announcement.

"I am sure," she said, "that every one of us here will be gratified to learn that after four weeks of unremitting effort and patience on the part of our friend the goose, she now has something to show for it. The goslings have arrived. May I offer my sincere congratulations!" (6.7-8)

The goose has been sitting on her eggs for a month, and now she finally gets to see the result. And in the end, she has seven little goslings to show for it. Check out how Charlotte compliments her friend's hard work.

Chapter 9
Charlotte A. Cavatica

"But no—with men it's rush, rush, rush, every minute. I'm glad I'm a sedentary spider."

"What does sedentary mean?" asked Wilbur.

"Means I sit still a good part of the time and don't go wandering all over creation. I know a good thing when I see it, and my web is a good thing. I stay put and wait for what comes. Gives me a chance to think." (9.36-38)

Charlotte doesn't think it's a good idea for humans to be too active. Instead, she likes staying more stationary. But when Wilbur is in trouble, Charlotte definitely shows us how much work she can get done with her webs. In fact, she works so much we're not even sure we'd call her "sedentary" after all. What do you think?

"Oh, I'll work it out alone," said Charlotte. "I can think better if I think alone." (9.65)

Charlotte is working on a plan to save Wilbur from becoming Christmas dinner. Clearly Wilbur isn't the only hard worker on this farm. Charlotte can be a go-getter, too. But while Wilbur likes to have his friends nearby, Charlotte likes her alone time.

Wilbur

"I think I'll try again," said Wilbur, cheerfully. "I believe what I need is a little piece of string to hold me." (9.19)

After his first try at spinning a web, Wilbur falls to the ground. No success yet for poor Wilbur. But the little guy is not about to give up after just one go. Check out how Wilbur doesn't seem fazed at all here. He just goes about "cheerfully," ready for take two.

"I could spin a web, if I tried," said Wilbur, boasting. "I've just never tried."

"Let's see you do it," said Charlotte. Fern chuckled softly, and her eyes grew wide with love for the pig.

"O.K.," replied Wilbur. "You coach me and I'll spin one. It must be a lot of fun to spin a web. How do I start?" (9.10-12)

Wilbur sure does have a go-getter attitude. Unfortunately, we already know that Wilbur just won't be able to spin a web. First of all, he's a pig. Secondly, he's a pig. Oh and one more thing, he's a pig. But this doesn't stop Wilbur from giving his first attempt at web-spinning everything he's got. Plus, he's got his friends nearby to help him out.

Chapter 13
Charlotte A. Cavatica

Charlotte got so interested in her work, she began to talk to herself, as though to cheer herself on. If you had been sitting quietly in the barn cellar that evening, you would have heard something like this:

"Now for the R! Up we go! Attach! Descend! Pay out line! Whoa! Attach! Good! Up you go! Repeat! Attach! Descend! Pay out line. Whoa, girl! Steady now!" (13.8-9)

Need someone to keep you motivated? Charlotte is your girl. She likes to act as her own cheerleader. Sure, it's great to have friends to cheer you on, but Charlotte is a one-woman show: she can cheer and work at the same time.

Chapter 15

It is not easy to look radiant, but Wilbur threw himself into it with a will. He would turn his head slightly and blink his long eyelashes. Then he would breathe deeply. And when the audience grew bored, he would spring into the air and do a back flip with a half twist. (15.7)

Wilbur has two challenges: (1) Try hard to live up to the web's slogan. (2) Keep the audience entertained. So he works to get both jobs done at once. We have to admit that an eye-lash-batting, back-flipping pig sounds pretty "radiant" to us.

Chapter 19

Suddenly a voice was heard on the loud speaker.

"Attention, please!" it said. "Will Mr. Homer Zuckerman bring his famous pig to the judges' booth in front of the grandstand. A special award will be made there in twenty minutes. Everyone is invited to attend. Crate your pig, please, Mr. Zuckerman, and report to the judges' booth promptly!" (19.54-55)

The Arables and Zuckermans had worried that Wilbur didn't win any prize at the fair. But turns out their hard work paid off, because he's about to get a special award. Or do you think its Charlotte's hard work that paid off? Does Mr. Zuckerman deserve the credit? What about Mrs. Zuckerman and the buttermilk baths?

Chapter 21
Wilbur

Wilbur was desperate. The people were coming. And the rat was failing him. Suddenly he remembered Templeton's fondness for food.

"Templeton," he said, "I will make you a solemn promise. Get Charlotte's egg sac for me, and from now on I will let you eat first, when Lurvy slops me." (21.40-41)

When Wilbur hears that Charlotte needs to get her egg sac back to the Zuckerman barn, he sets to work right away. It takes Wilbur multiple attempts to get Templeton to listen to him, but our persevering pig doesn't give up. He keeps trying to convince Templeton to help out until he hits on the magic key: food.