Monday, November 7, 2011

Last Day-E.B. White

Last Day by E.B. White takes an excerpt from Charlotte’s Web. In the scene, Wilbur has just won a medal for being a prized show-pig.  As Charlotte and Wilbur rest after the ceremony, they begin to talk. We find that Charlotte is not going back to the farm with Wilbur and the others because she is about to die. Wilbur goes into a panic because he can’t fathom losing such a good friend. As the time to leave draws nearer and nearer, Wilbur comes up with a plan to memorialize Charlotte. He plans to take her egg sac so that her children may live on the farm. However, Wilbur can’t reach the egg sac from inside his cage, so he enlists the help of Templeton the rat. Templeton, however, has different plans. He does not cooperate with Wilbur at first because he is getting nothing out of saving the egg sac. When Wilbur offers him first dibs on his food trough for the rest of his life, though, Templeton quickly changes his mind and gets the egg sac. Wilbur stores the egg sac in his mouth until he returns to the farm where generations of Charlotte’s offspring continue to flourish. Meanwhile, Charlotte is left at the fair grounds and dies.

This story correlates strongly with the theme of death we’ve been speaking about. Again we see that death has a different impact on everyone, much like we saw in A Silver Dish. While Wilbur is distraught over Charlotte’s death, Templeton remains quite apathetic. In A Silver Dish, it was almost as if no one really cared about the father’s death besides Woody. I think the empty fairground when Charlotte finally did pass is an example of this. As Charlotte dies, the fairground that once thrived with people is barren besides the trash on the ground. This represents the emptiness and loneliness of her death.

The third or so paragraph at the beginning and the second to last paragraph have a very transcendental feel to them. For instance, Wilbur thinks to himself that, “[the farm] was the best place to be…this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons…the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders…and the glory of everything.” Wilbur loves all that is around him. He is a part of the farm, and the farm is a part of him.

The idea of Wilbur taking Charlotte’s egg sac back to the farm is symbolic of the circle of life. While Charlotte may be dead, her offspring live on. Where there is death there is life. I think this is White’s main point here.

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