Charlotte's Web: Allegory Of The Barn

1457 words - 6 pages

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White is a children's novel that tries to instill the values of friendship, loyalty and basic characteristics of humans through an adventure of farm animals. This novel was written in the early 1950's at the time when the world was split by a curtain in two. It is open and direct in topics dealing with traits of certain animals and their role in the society of the "barn", but one cannot disconcert the subtle praise this novel gives to the society that this novel is encompassed by. Charlotte's Web contains re-occurring imagery, which implies that the society in which the characters live in is bountiful and that farm life is relatively easy, and brings the promise of ...view middle of the document...

It may be argued that these descriptions are made so specific in order to indulge the imagination of a child reading this novel. A valid argument can be made that Mr. White consciously or subconsciously introduced this descriptive element to praise and embellish the success of the life that he considers to be rural. One has to stress that any notions of this imagery being used consciously is very unlikely simply because public and open displays in literature were not uncommon at this time and there would be no reason for the author to be this subtle consciously.Another re-occurring image that is the most prominent symbol of Capitalism is not referred to often in this novel but is referred to nevertheless. Money is not something that the author uses here as a force that in some subtle way drives the story of the novel. That is to say, greed is not the force behind the story and monetary references are minor but important when analyzed from a semiotic perspective. Although in Ch II Wilbur is sold it is not specific for how much, but latter on in the story the author describes the abundance of goods at the fair and the freedom the kids enjoy when they get there. Most receive money from their parents and are free to do whatever they wish with the allowance they have received. The significance of this is that, beside of this being a step in maturity of the characters involved, the amount that is dispensed by the adults to Fern and Avery is fairly descriptive again. "Mr. Arable gave Fern two quarters and two dimes. He gave Avery five dimes and four nickels"(131). This type of descriptive imagery is repeated once more when Mr. Zuckerman receives the prize for Wilbur and the author once more tells us "He [the judge] handed Mr. Zuckerman two ten dollar bills and a five dollar bill"(160). It's fairly uncommon to be descriptive about money in this manner in children's novels and one can only assume the meaning and the context in which this was written in.The Fair is another vehicle that is used to emphasize the excess that children indulge themselves to once a year. The author is fairly descriptive as to what one can find at the fair. This is surely done to justify the excitement that Avery and Fern display when they are finally "released" upon the fair. E.B. White is also descriptive as to what Tempelton can find at the fair. The wasted food is plentiful and at one point Tempelton himself said how he "[I] must have eaten the remains of thirty lunches" (148). This laid-back mention of the food that is wasted again brings about the notion of excess, which is the heart of the argument against Capitalism. Food is a re-occurring image that is used to display the excess the people live in E.B.Whites novel. Wilbur being dirty, because he is a pig, is washed by Mr. Zuckerman's farm hand Lurvy with buttermilk. This is not the only instance where food is the symbol of excess. Wilbur's diet...

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