-I thought that Charlotte’s Web was going to delve deeper into exploring the human-animal relationship, but Fern (who as a character remains flat and undeveloped) fades out of the story after the first few chapters. Why does Fern—the only human character who has the ability to understand the animals—remain flat and undeveloped? How is this effective teaching children about the human-animal relationship or the bond between pets and owners?
-I speculate that Fern is highly aware that Wilbur is going to get killed during Christmas, given her ability to understand the animals. So why does Fern remain indifferent and silent about this matter? At what point of the story has she just accepted the fact that Wilbur is a “meat animal” (Ratelle 335)? (I’m questioning this transition.) After he is sold? But isn’t Wilbur still her pet? As I don’t think that the feeling/ identity of being a pet owner would cease abruptly even after the pet is no longer with the pet owner.
-If Wilbur is read as a stand-in for the human child, how do we make sense of the relationship between Fern (who is also a child) and Wilbur? What do we make of the human-animal relationship in light of such a mode of coexistence?
-Not a question, but I’m interested in what others make of the depiction of motherhood in the book, particularly in conjunction with the idea of sacrifice…
These are all superb questions, and the “fading away” of Fern has always interested me too. I particularly appreciate the question about her ultimate acceptance of Wilbur’s “edibility” and what we learn from that…looking forward to discussing the matter of sacrifice as well! CH