Children’s literature is largely defined by the characters’ escapist tendencies. A glaring example is Alice in Wonderland. These characters usually desire to escape to the world of imagination because they are confused with the reality surrounding them. They look for solace from the demanding, stressful, and bewildering world of reality. However, such escapist attitudes usually end up with a positive outcome—the characters become capable of coping with their reality and they begin to see the world in a new light. However, there is a popular children’s literature that besides carrying its characters back and forth to the world of reality and the world of imagination also encourages its readers to learn and experience the difference between what is real and what is imagined. E.B. White, in Charlotte’s Web, ridicules the real world of adults who do not have a sense of imagination. Adults are viewed as somewhat ridiculous by animals that act quite like humans.
Throughout Charlotte’s Web, animals and children that are innocent and unaware of worldly things appear more sensible and wittier than almost all of the adult characters. In a particular scene, adult obsession with the threats of daydreaming and imagination are revealed when Fern’s mother, Mrs. Arable, consults a physician because she is anxious about the intense imagination of Fern. Charlotte’s Web is a great story about how the world of imagination can make the world of reality sensible. Similar to art, fiction, and fairy tales, children’s literature embrace in an expressively purified manner the things that are most important to people. Children usually have greater sensitivity to their emotions, and they have difficulties understanding these emotions with respect to a growingly complicated perspective of life.
The story used the power of emotions and experiences of animals. Through these humanlike animals, readers are able to touch the metaphysical, the unfathomable concepts of life, death, and resurrection (Sims 52). It is remarkable how a children’s tale about animals, specifically a spider and a pig, can capture essential life lessons. E.B White applied the worldly and the normal to represent the fantastic, mysterious, and heart-breaking. He taught his readers about the necessity of becoming good adults by clinging to everything that were genuine and extraordinary about childhood.
As White explained, “In real life, a spider doesn’t spin words in her web But real life is only one kind of life—there is also the life of the imagination. And although my stories are imaginary, I like to think that there is some truth in them, too—truth about the way people and animals feel and think and act” (White (a) 211). People depend on emotional connection to determine sincerity and truthfulness, to connect the worlds of various perspectives of reality, and to reconstruct and polish one’s insights. It is such facets of emotion that greatly influence the success of an imaginative endeavor or the bridging of the creativity and reality.
Imagination and emotions not merely rescued Wilbur from certain death but also furnished meaning to it. A core message in Charlotte’s Web is that emotional connection between human beings, between animals, with regard to the natural world, and to the world of reality makes life tragic, valuable, and meaningful. The spider’s web tells the readers that they are really interacting with their emotions. It also encourages the readers to stay unbiased and systematically collect the images, memories, and experience before making an attempt to differentiate reality from imagination.
White informs his readers that emotional communication, expression, and experience evolve throughout the lifespan and that the choice to escape to an imaginary world is a medium for positive growth and creativity. Dr. Dorian further said, “Let Fern associate with her friends in the barn if she wants to. I would say, offhand, that spiders and pigs were fully as interesting as Henry Fussy” (White (b) 111). White uses the character of Dr. Dorian to illustrate how some adults are also inspired by children to cross into the world of imagination when reality seems to be a bit too harsh for their liking. It is the knowledge that imagination contributes to the positive growth and development of children that makes Dr. Dorian sympathetic to the plight of Fern.
Charlotte’s Web end with the exhortation “Life in the barn was very good—night and day, winter and summer, spring and fall, dull days and bright days. It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure, and the glory of everything” (White (b) 183). Charlotte symbolizes the complete array of human oppositions, including real and imagined, which people try to hide but which are quite openly personified in her remarkably empowering, creative, compassionate, and, simultaneously, overwhelming and ferocious character. It was the goal of White to push his readers to transcend the boundaries of the world of reality and brave the uncertain expanse of the world of imagination in order to gain a better understanding of the expressions, experiences, and desires of animals and the natural environment. Simply put, White encourages his readers to imagine a world wherein humanlike animals roam freely and are capable of rational thought.
Charlotte is a writer and the creator of the visions that occur. By spinning words in her web, she forms an imaginary narrative in the mind of grownups. Charlotte breaks the barrier dividing the world of imagination and the world of reality that has grown in the minds of adults over the years. She pours in the magic of fantasy and allows the readers to experience the lessons that the world of imagination can offer.
In truth, children’s literature is remarkably useful to adults, especially to those who have fully lost the grip of their childhood. In Charlotte’s Web, White demonstrates how something imaginary can inspire change and teach invaluable life lessons. He used both human and animal characters to illustrate the need to understand the nuances of reality in terms of what an imaginary world could offer.
Sims, Michael. The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E.B. White and the Birth of a Children’s Classic. New York: A&C Black, 2011. Print.
White, Martha (a). In the Words of E.B. White: Quotations from America’s Most Companionable Writers. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011. Print.
White, E.B. (b). Charlotte’s Web. New York: HarperCollins, 2015. Print.