by Faith Silvertooth
Christian Heritage Classical School, Longview, TX
Today, we finished reading Charlotte’s Web.
It was very emotional for us.
As I was reading the chapter in which Charlotte dies, I noticed one of my students gasp. I looked up to realize she figured out the scene E.B. White was setting with the lonely and empty fairgrounds. She put both hands over her face, hunched in her chair, and began to quietly sob, anticipating what’s to come.
I’m an empathetic person, and will cry along with anyone, whether happy or sad; so, as I watched my student experience an emotional journey with the book, I began to choke up as well.
So here I was, trying to read about Charlotte dying, while holding back tears of my own, and watching my sweet student’s heart break. I read the final lines of the chapter, “Nobody, of the hundreds of people that had visited the Fair, knew that a grey spider had played the most important part of all. No one was with her when she died.” We closed the book, and my sweet girl let all her emotions out. She was so heartbroken that our beloved Charlotte had died.
While trying to debrief and allowing our emotions to run their course, we made the correlation that Charlotte could be viewed as a Christ-like figure. She loved her friends so much she was willing to put their needs before her own, knowing that she would die in the process. Without her help, Wilbur would have died. As Wilbur sees her for the last time, she tells him that he doesn’t have to worry about dying now. Thanks to her sacrifice, he can be “assured” that Mr. Zuckerman will not harm him for many years to come. Charlotte provided a way out for Wilbur, in the same way that Jesus provided a way out for us; and just like us, Wilbur could not save himself. Only a “miracle” could save him. A sacrifice of unconditional love.
The story doesn’t end there, although our class discussion did. In the last chapter Wilbur brings back to the barn Charlotte’s “magnum opus,” her greatest work — her children. When spring comes, the children hatch and fly off with the wind, leaving only 3 behind to stay with Wilbur. The young spiders tell him that it’s what they are supposed to do, much to his dismay. As Christians, we also are not supposed to keep the good news to ourselves; but instead, go into “all the world preaching the gospel to every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
What a beautiful ending to a sweet children’s book, which I have read numerous times, and yet, had not experienced so fully until today. It was a reminder to me that the Spirit can use any experience to remind us of the unfailing love, and sacrifice, of Jesus. May we never forget!