Study Guide

Charlotte's Web Chapter 3

By E. B. White

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Chapter 3


  • Wilbur's new digs are pretty sweet. Uncle Homer's barn is huge, filled with fun barn stuff like ladders and rope, and full of warm places to relax and enjoy the day.
  • Every day, Fern comes to visit Wilbur. In fact, she comes so often that all the animals get used to her and start to trust her.
  • During her visits, Fern sits on a milk stool and looks into Wilbur's pen. She's not allowed to take Wilbur out of his pen or climb in there with him.
  • This means Wilbur doesn't get to go on stroller rides or go swimming anymore.
  • But at least he and Fern still get to see each other every. single. day.
  • On one particular day, Wilbur heads outside to enjoy a bit of sunshine. Fern isn't there yet so he's pretty bored. But here's the crazy thing that happens: we hear Wilbur's first thought. And it goes like this: "There's never anything to do around here" (3.6).
  • Actually, Wilbur is so bored that he talks out loud to himself all about how there's just nothing to do but walk in and out of his little barn space.
  • But then something happens that's about to make Wilbur a lot less bored: he hears a voice that says: "That's where you're wrong, my friend, my friend" (3.8).
  • And who is the giver of this nugget of insight? A very resourceful goose. The goose tells Wilbur that he can get out of his fence if he just pushes on one of the loose boards.
  • Wilbur does, and he's free. Yippee!
  • But now that he's free, Wilbur doesn't quite know what to do with his newfound liberty. The goose has some advice: jump, dance, and do whatever you want. Sounds like a good plan.
  • So Wilbur does a little twirl. Yep, this pig not only talks, but dances too. Then he heads over to an apple tree to enjoy one of his favorite pastimes: digging his snout into the ground.
  • But the fun can't last forever. Mrs. Zimmerman sees that the pig is loose and sets off the alarm. Before you know it, Uncle Homer, Lurvy (a man hired to help on the farm), and even the family cocker spaniel are chasing down Wilbur. All the animals in the barn have heard of Wilbur's escape and are eager to watch the chase.
  • Poor Wilbur doesn't know what to do. Should he run? Stay? Do a jig? He's so bewildered that he's wondering why on earth he broke through the fence in the first place.
  • Homer, Lurvy, and the cocker spaniel start grabbing for Wilbur. So he's stuck dodging arms left and right. To make it all even more confusing, the animals are shouting contradictory advice from the barn. Some say go uphill, others down. Some say dance, some say spin. It's a regular kerfuffle!
  • The chase comes to an end when Mr. Zimmerman whips out a pail of slop. The slop is a mix of milk, old breakfast cereal, and leftover food. Ew, right? But Wilbur thinks the slop has the most heavenly smell ever.
  • So Wilbur follows Mr. Zimmerman and his pail back into the pen. The whole time the goose is shouting to Wilbur that it's a trap, but he couldn't care less. All he wants is some nice comforting food, especially since Fern isn't there.
  • Back in the pen, Wilbur is happy again. He's full, Homer is scratching his back with a stick, and Lurvy and Homer are talking about what a swell pig Wilbur is. Perhaps life inside the pigpen isn't so bad after all.

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