Books Where The Main.Charaxyers Story Is Only.Told Over Christmas Charlotte’s Web Review

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Charlotte’s Web Review

When opposites work together

The concept of “yin and yang” originated in ancient China. The concept describes two main opposing but complementary forces or principles that are found in the objects and processes of the universe. Yin is the dark element, often associated with the feminine side and the night. Yang, on the other hand, is also associated with the masculine side and day with the radiant element (Wikipedia). Psychologist William Indick argues that in some stories, at times, “two characters are as different as night and day…yet [they] complement each other” (Indick, Psychology 117) In EB White’s Charlotte’s Web story, Charlotte and Templeton complement each other and work together to save Wilbur’s life.

Charlotte and Templeton are physically different from each other. Charlotte is a female spider or “yin”, while Templeton is a male rat or “yang” counterpart. The spider describes himself as a trapper and likes to drink the blood of animals he traps (White 39). Furthermore, Wilbur thinks that his new friend—Charlotte—is “fierce, cruel, scheming, and bloodthirsty” (41). In contrast, Templeton explains that he “likes to spend his time eating [leftovers] Crouching, spying and sneaking…I’m a glutton” (29). Charlotte believes that “a mouse is a mouse” (47). But these physical characteristics may not be entirely related to the character’s personality.

In the story, Charlotte is not just an ordinary spider, but a mother to Wilbur. Evie White employs “a mother archetype” as part of Charlotte’s personality. Dr. Indick explains that archetypes are shared entities and images, concepts, or significant unconscious figures that all people can relate to (Indick, Psychology 113-114). Charlotte is a caring and loving “mother” to Wilbur. When Wilbur discovers that he will be killed by the end of the year, he begins to scream in despair and plead for help. As a mother would, Charlotte worries and promises to devise a plan to save Wilbur from the ax (51). Also, Wilbur acts like a child and asks Charlotte to tell him a story from time to time. So the spider tells Wilbur the story of his beautiful cousin, who managed to spin a web across a small stream. At the end of Charlotte’s story Wilbur asks her to sing a song, and she sings like a loving mother to her dearest son (101-104).

Despite Charlotte’s physical appearance, she is a teacher mentor to Wilbur. Dr. Indick argues that the mentor archetype is a very common figure in stories, myths, and movies. Also, a teacher mentor will be a knowledgeable and inspirational figure who has taught and guided students. Moreover, “the teacher sees his students as budding heroes, overcoming their own weaknesses under his tutelage…and his students’ triumphs become his own” (Indick, Movies 53-54). Charlotte fulfills the teacher mentor archetype as she teaches her students about various subjects, for example, “One afternoon, Wilbur tells Charlotte that his legs are very hairy. Charlotte continues to explain to him that his legs are hairy for a good reason, [spins webs] And his leg is divided into seven parts – cox, trochanter, femur, patella, tibia, metatarsus and tarsus” (55). The teacher also helps his student develop his vocabulary, Wilbur always asks the meaning of a word such as “What does salutation mean? What does sitting mean? Or what does bhola mean? (35,61,67). On the other hand, towards the end of the story, Wilbur wins a prize at the fair and asks Charlotte why she is so quiet. Charlotte responds that she is a little tired, but she feels calmer, because Wilbur’s success in the ring was her success (163). Therefore, after all his hard work and after Wilbur overcomes his weaknesses, the teacher feels the student’s success as his triumph.

Like yin and yang, Templeton’s personality is the exact opposite of Charlotte’s.

First, he behaves like a disinterested parent towards a child. At the beginning of the story, Wilbur is sad and bored and asks Templeton to talk to him and play with him. But the mouse frustrates Wilbur because, like a loving father, Templeton doesn’t want to be with him and says “I’d never do those things if I could avoid them” (29). Templeton’s behavior can be explained by a psychosocial phase of Erikson’s identity crisis; The stage of trust versus disbelief. Based on this stage, Dr. Indick explained that a skeptical character (like Templeton) is reluctant to commit himself to a heroic cause, because he is unable to trust the good people who need his help (Indick, Psychology 80). In order to resolve a conflict of distrust, the character must take a “leap of faith,” meaning that he must let down his guard and surrender himself to someone else. The leap of faith is not a great transformation, just a step where the character moves into a more active state of helping someone (Indick, Psychology 81).

Charlotte and Templeton are as different as night and day. Charlotte is caring, loving, faithful and loyal, while Templeton is the opposite because he is not faithful, he has “no morals, no conscience, no reproach, no consideration, no decency, no rat’s milk of kindness, no compunction” higher sense. , no friendship, nothing” (45-46). Furthermore, Templeton is selfish. Charlotte tells the oldest sheep that she is not sure Templeton will be willing to help them because “he is always looking out for himself, never thinking of another fellow” (89 ).

Therefore, Templeton is not a parent or teacher figure or Wilbur or anyone’s friend.

Although Templeton is selfish and untrustworthy, he takes his “leap of faith” when he teams up with Charlotte and the others to save Wilbur. Charlotte needs some new words to write them on her web, so the old sheep instructs Templeton to fetch a clipping from a magazine (90-91). Charlotte cannot do the work herself due to her physical limitations. But Templeton is a rat; He has more physical potential to perform the task because unlike the rest of the animals, he comes and goes as he pleases. Although Templeton initially refuses to do the job, after a brief explanation from the old sheep, he agrees to help, saying, “I’m making a trip to the dump tomorrow afternoon. I’ll bring back a magazine clipping if I can find one.” Later, Templeton finds an advertisement with the words ‘with new radiant action’ and together, Yin and Yang (Templeton and Charlotte) study the soap advertisement (97). Although Templeton does not like being treated as a “messenger boy,” he visits the fair and brings Charlotte the last word he writes on his web: “humble” (139-140). At the end of the story, without being asked, Templeton also bites Wilbur’s tail when he faints in front of everyone and is easily persuaded to bring Wilbur Charlotte’s egg sac (168-169). So Templeton becomes more proactive and helps Wilbur.

Regardless of character differences, they combine their powers and abilities to work together and in the end, Wilbur is safe. Jane Gary and Hassan El-Shami explain that:

An important aspect of the concept of opposites is that the perceived inner union between opposites forms a new emotional entity that is greater than the details of either element… In most general terms, union refers to the idea that opposites attract and unite. The whole is greater than the sum of the opposite parts…(Gary and El-Shamy 482)

Charlotte and Templeton are like night and day. Their personalities are significantly different. Spider is a mother, a teacher and friend of Wilbur. On the other hand, Rat is a selfish, inconsiderate and sensitive character. However, these two personalities complement each other, they wake up together to save the death of Wilbur’s form. Charlotte makes a plan and Templeton helps her and brings the words she needs. They combine their talents, and form a powerful whole like yin and yang, effectively performing a selfless task: to save Wilbur’s life.

Monica Caballero Licona

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