Essay on Charlotte's Web: Webbing Characters with Words

Essay on Charlotte's Web: Webbing Characters with Words

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What defines a person? Is it his actions, his intention, or his reputation? No matter what the answer is, people associate who they are with the words used to describe them. The novel Charlotte’s Web is no exception, for within it, words are used as the basis for transforming perspectives. In the novel, the individual words weaved into Charlotte’s web transform the other characters’ perspectives of Wilbur. After realizing the impact and influence of words by witnessing the change in perspective of the other characters, Wilbur begins to change his perception of himself. Charlotte, on the other hand, uses words as a way to form a moral for Wilbur. This awareness of words reveals Wilbur’s and Charlotte’s relationship with words as a mechanism for transformation and consequently reflects the child-parent relationship Wilbur and Charlotte possess. In this relationship, Wilbur fulfills the role of a child and Charlotte fulfills the role of the parent and demonstrates why and when words are appropriate to use.
Other characters’ opinions of Wilbur are influenced by the words written on Charlotte’s web. At first, Wilbur was only considered pork – something to be eaten for winter (49). However, as soon as the words appeared on Charlotte’s web, Mr. Zuckerman stopped thinking of Wilbur as food. When the word ‘terrific’ appears on the web, Mr. Zuckerman states that “there isn’t a pig in the whole state that is terrific as our pig” (96). When the word ‘radiant’ appears on Charlotte’s web, Mr. Zuckerman says, “that pig is radiant” (115). In other words, Mr. Zuckerman’s opinion of Wilbur changes as soon as he reads the words in Charlotte’s web. Mr. Zuckerman’s change of perspective is obviously displayed in his usage of description words from ...


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...ore aware of the fact that a child, like Wilbur, will associate words with themselves by believing he has to become what is said about him. At the same time, children learn to be humble when receiving compliments. Furthermore, readers recognize that, just as the other characters in the story display, most people’s perception of words are a way to reflect the personality and qualities someone possesses. To be good parents, they should use words as Charlotte does; they should choose words for their meaning and with a purpose in mind. In the case of this novel, Charlotte uses words to save Wilbur from death and to teach him not to let compliments consume his ego. Parents are reminded that they should act as narrators in their children’s life like Charlotte who is the background voice that allows Wilbur to take the stage as she weaves the words that entrap the readers.

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