No. 4: Charlotte A. Cavatica from Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Charlotte shows what being a true friend is when she saves her best friend, a pig named Wilbur, from a bleak future: butchering. (Eek, that word, but it's the truth. And as Charlotte says, "It's true, and I have to say what is true.")
Wilbur is sent to a farm where he meets Charlotte, a word-savvy spider. Though at first he is intimidated by her lifestyle — the whole catching bugs in her web and drinking their blood thing — the two become close friends.
The wordsmith she is, Charlotte spins webs with phrases such as "Some Pig," "Terrific" and "Radiant" to describe Wilbur, which earns him fame in the pig-showing business.
Though bittersweet, I love the final seen between Wilbur and Charlotte at the fair. Charlotte has done her best to save Wilbur from the fate most pigs must fate. Together they succeed and celebrate.
The joyous moment also comes with sadness. Charlotte reached the end of her life, and they must say good-bye. Though she is too weak to make the return trip to the farm, and her time is numbered, Charlotte gives Wilbur a final lesson on the importance of friendship. (See my favorite quotes below to get what I mean.)
"Salutations are greetings," said the voice. "When I say 'salutations,' it's just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning. Actually, it's a silly expression, and I am surprised I use it at all." (36)
"I am not entirely happy about my diet of flies and bugs, but it's the way I'm made." (39)
"Your success in the ring this morning was, to a small degree, my success. Your future is assured. You will live, secure and safe, Wilbur. Nothing can harm you now." (163)
"Why did you do all this for me?" he asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you."
"You have been my friend," replied Charlotte. "That in itself is a tremendous thing." (164)
Why I love her
Charlotte's Web is about friendship. It is about finding that connection in a person or creature you do not expect. Though Wilbur initially feared Charlotte, in the end her existence changed and saved his life. She worked until the end of her life, spinning webs to show the world how wonderful Wilbur was.
When her life comes to an end, Wilbur repays that kindness by ensuring her children are able to return to the farm to live. He even bribes Templeton to help him by giving the rat first dibs on the daily slop. He carries the egg sac home on his tongue, to ensure her children make it to safety. This shows how valued Charlotte's friendship was to him. Only a true friendship could make someone do that.
It is summed up best in the book's final paragrah:
Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.If that doesn't make you tear up, you are clearly made of stone. I bawled when I read it at 8, and I cried when I typed it up now. I don't even like spiders, but I love Charlotte.
This book is a reminder that a true friend stands out from the rest. Other friends may come and go, but the best is the one who is never forgotten.
Check back Thursday for No. 3 in Project BFF. You can also read more about the series by visiting the "Projects" page, linked at the top of the page.
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