Study Guide

Charlotte's Web Chapter 4

By E. B. White

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Chapter 4


  • The day after Wilbur's fence-escaping adventure, it's raining cats and dogs. Wilbur is super bummed about the bad weather, because he'd had his day all planned out.
  • How's this sound for a daily schedule: eat, have a chat with a rat, nap, dig, stand still (seriously, Wilbur schedules time for standing still), eat, scratch, stand still again and wait for Fern, eat.
  • This pig sure is a planner.
  • But sadly for Wilbur, the rain sends these plans out the window.
  • So Wilbur sets about calling for Templeton, the rat that camps out under his trough. When Templeton doesn't respond, Wilbur feels pretty miserable and lonely. Even breakfast doesn't cheer him up because "Wilbur didn't want food, he wanted love" (4.22).
  • Poor little guy.
  • Wilbur decides to see if he can find a friend to play with him. So he makes his pitch—some version of "Will you play with me?"—to each barn animal around, one after the other.
  • First up: the goose. But the goose says she's too busy sitting on her eggs.
  • Second in line: the lamb. But the lamb is super rude and tells Wilbur that he just isn't interesting enough to be the lamb's playmate.
  • Well, that's just not nice.
  • Third up to bat: Templeton the rat. But Templeton says he doesn't know how to play. Instead, he's going to eat Wilbur's breakfast, since the pig hasn't had a bite of it.
  • Seeing Templeton eat his breakfast is the last straw. Wilbur has no friends and now no food. He feels so stinkin' lonely that he breaks down and cries.
  • Lurvy thinks they need to do something to cheer this pig up, so Mr. Zuckerman says to give Wilbur some medicine and molasses. And Wilbur is so not in the mood for medicine or molasses. His day just can't get any worse.
  • But once nighttime hits, Wilbur gets a pleasant surprise. A voice in the darkness says: "Do you want a friend, Wilbur?" (4.40).
  • You bet he does!
  • Wilbur can't see where this mysterious voice is coming from because it's so dark out. But the voice tells him two important things that just might turn Wilbur's luck around:
  • (1) The voice wants to be Wilbur's friend.
  • (2) Wilbur will get to see the source of this voice in the morning.

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