Study Guide

Charlotte's Web Chapter 16

By E. B. White

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Chapter 16

Off to the Fair

  • It's fair time, y'all! The night before the fair, everyone is dreaming about how great the next day is going to be. Mr. Zuckerman dreams that Wilbur wins all the fair prizes so that he's completely covered in blue ribbons.
  • Even the barn animals are excited for the fair. They all go to bed early so they can see Wilbur in the morning before he begins his first road trip.
  • On the morning of the fair, the Arables and the Zuckermans get ready for the big event. For Fern, this means putting on a cute dress because you just never know who you're going to see at the fair.
  • For Wilbur, getting ready for the fair means enjoying a buttermilk bath from Mrs. Zuckerman. Mr. Zuckerman doesn't think Wilbur is dirty at all, but Mrs. Zuckerman insists that she bathe Wilbur in buttermilk. Apparently it's something her grandmother used to do.
  • Turns out that Mrs. Zuckerman is right. After Wilbur's buttermilk bath, he sparkles. He sure does look radiant on the outside and he feels radiant on the inside, too.
  • While the Zuckermans and Lurvy finish getting ready for the fair, Charlotte makes an announcement: she is going to the fair with Wilbur, after all. Woo!
  • Charlotte thinks Templeton should come, too. He might be good for running errands. But Templeton is being his grumpy self and declares that he has no interest in coming to the fair. Thankfully, the wise old sheep tells Templeton all about the food scraps he'll find at the fair, and Templeton changes his tune.
  • So Charlotte and Templeton hide in Wilbur's green crate for the fair. The sheep figures this means the crate should really read "Zuckerman's Famous Pig and Two Stowaways" (16.33).
  • The Arables arrive to load Wilbur into his crate and get it onto the truck. Everyone can't help but notice what a very handsome pig Wilbur is.
  • Unfortunately for Wilbur, this admiration is short-lived because Mr. Arable is about to say something really upsetting: "You'll get some extra good ham and bacon, Homer, when it comes time to kill that pig" (16.46).
  • Uh-oh, looks like Charlotte's plan to save Wilbur's life isn't working out as well as it should.
  • Wilbur can't stand this news, so he does precisely what a nineteenth-century lady would do: he faints.
  • One bucket of water later, Wilbur is awake again and shoved into the crate. Now that he's on the back of the truck, everyone is off to the fair.

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