Por Delfina Palmero.
The novel started as a children’s tale, like the ones my dad used to tell me when I was a girl, every single time I went to bed. I could not sleep at night until my dad came to tell me a story at my bed’s feet, until I fell fully slumbering. He could tell me any kind of story, from “Cinderella” or “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, to “The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs”. Fairytales still nourish our imaginations, providing enchanted forests filled with sleeping beauties, talking animals, cunning wolves and charming princes. They may take place in magical kingdoms far removed from our own but these stories teach us important life lessons. I for one still reread them, sometimes and as soon as I finish I find new takes to the story. I believe that is due to growing up and seeing life in a completely different way, with new experiences and knowledge. Besides, fairy tales are not only timeless, they can provide both advice and entertainment for every generation.
They teach us life lessons wrapped in a story, like in the wolf “Little Red Riding Hood” teaches us about trust and that appearances can be deceiving, and of course in “Charlotte’s Web”, we learn about the importance of friendship in our lives. These lessons and countless others teach us so many things about life, about friendship, about being a human being and, mostly, about love. The act of love always functions as the most powerful magic in every story.
The love in this novel can be seen in Wilbur’s friends; friendship is the core of the novel. Without Fern’s love he would have been killed as a runt, and without Charlotte’s love he would have been killed for Christmas dinner. I am very passionate about the admiration and love that Fern and Wilbur have, because they both brought hope and joy to their lives from the moment they met. The truth is that I am very faithful to my friends and I feel that I would give everything for them, which is clearly what the novel conveys: that without friendship one cannot get anywhere. Friends are a support in life, they help you to be a better person every day and to be able to carry out difficult situations in our lives.
I feel that every single friend that came into my life taught me something, and that is exactly what happened in the story. Mainly, Fern’s love for Wilbur saved him from being killed for being a runty pig, but then their friendship led Wilbur to carry on his feeling of loneliness and friendlessness, when he was rejected by all the animals of the barn. Fern shows loyalty to Wilbur until the end of the book, but I think that she was not the one that made Wilbur learn what true friendship was. Not only did Fern save Wilbur’s life when he was young, but Charlotte also saved his life again. By spinning words into her webs near Wilbur, Charlotte helped Wilbur become famous and win a prize at the fair, thus saving him from being slaughtered for Christmas. Through Charlotte, it can be seen what it is like to give everything for a friend. Even in her last days, before dying and waiting for her children, she did everything to fulfill the promise she had made to Wilbur, and was able to save him from being turned into food in winter. I want to highlight the importance of promises, because if we tell someone that we are going to do something and then we do not, we are breaking a promise. Regardless of what we have promised, we have made a commitment and we are morally obliged to fulfill it, and that was clearly what Charlotte emphasized with her character in the novel.
Charlotte’s life had purpose because she saved his life and made him happy, and this helps us see that the importance of friendship is one of the greatest joys of life. I really admired Charlotte’s character, because she was the only one that accompanied Wilbur in his friendlessness, until he became famous because of the webs she made him.
Going through the pages of the first chapter, I was completely surprised with Fern’s personality, who coincidentally, is very similar to mine in my childhood. Ever since I can remember, I was always one of those who was in trouble. At my school, the «punishment» when you misbehaved was that recess was taken away from you and you has to stand under the bell. I think I have more memories under that bell than in the yard playing with my friends. I even made friends there with those who misbehaved just like me.
Perhaps I was a brilliant student, academically speaking, but I was also a troublemaker. Most of the times I got into trouble, it was because I was the one who got into trouble for being the one who carried forward others’ complaints or was the voice of my classmates.
But I digress. What I was always looking for, as a child, was not trouble, but justice. “This is the most terrible case of injustice I ever heard of”’, said Fern when she was discussing with her father about killing or not killing the runty pig. This quote made me travel in time to my childhood, when all things that weren’t okay with my point of view were lived as a terrible injustice that I have to deal with.
Every argument I had with an adult, ended in me getting angry, until I did not achieve my goal. It gave me so much helplessness that sometimes I had to settle for a “no” for no apparent reason. Therefore, persevering like no one else, I always wanted others to tell me the reason for their response. Many people have told me since I was a child that my vocation was going to be the legal profession because I always sought to fix injustices around me.
Fern, throughout the novel, reminded me of what it was like when I was young. Seeing the way, he pursued what she wanted seemed a reflection of who I was at her age, and in certain ways how I am today. I am a persevering and determined person, which makes me pretty much unstoppable when I consider how much self-confidence I have. That is why when I set out to achieve something, I am not going to stop until it is done (and done right).
For this reason, I identify a lot with the character of Fern, who throughout the story is such a small girl who with her beliefs achieves extraordinary things. The truth is that I feel that fighting for her goals paid off, because in the end Wilbur would not be in his place if it were not for Fern’s insistence and perseverance with her family. The love she had for Wilbur, led her to fight for him and show everyone else, especially her family, that he was more than a runty pig.
I loved this book. Stories come to bring us lessons of all kinds, and at all ages. Clearly this story, in addition to being compelling from the beginning, provides life lessons of all kinds.
The main lesson is the importance of friendship regardless of differences, as was Wilbur’s and Charlotte’s case. Charlotte seems fierce, brutal, and bloodthirsty to Wilbur at first, but as he gives her a chance, he learns that she is kindhearted, clever, and compassionate. It can be seen perfectly well how some people may seem rough around the edges on the outside, but they usually have endearing qualities on the inside.
Many times, we judge people by their appearances or by those who surround them, but at the end of the day we have to get to their core to know who they really are. This is what happens with Charlotte’s storyline. We need to understand that everyone is different, and just because you do not approve something does not mean that nobody else should do it, and this is shown by Wilbur, who despite not having much in common with Charlotte, accepted her as a friend.
Another significant message that the novel leaves is perseverance in life, being an essential element when you need to achieve a high level of success. I truly believe that «No man is a failure who has friends”. In Charlotte’s Web we have a lot of characters who try really hard, even when times are tough. It can be seen from the things that the barn animals have to cope with, to the humans and their daily problems. The character that stands out the most for her perseverance is Charlotte, who after all, works hard on her web and saves Wilbur’s life. After all her attempts to save Wilbur, through the words on her spider webs, she persevered over and over again until she found the right word that gave him the first place at the fair. I feel that one definitely learns from mistakes because it is seen how, through her failed attempts with the first words, she was able to make it to the one that made Wilbur shine, and thus save his life, with the word «humble».
Sometimes mistakes are not just one big mistake, but instead, they are a series of small choices that lead to failure. The most important life lessons we will ever learn will be from the bad decisions we make, so time and experience can be excellent teachers when you actually learn a lesson from your poor decisions.