le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

what a tangled web we weave

Today my class discussed Charlotte's Web. They are all such smart kids. I was intrigued by a few comments they made, though, especially one girl whose basic stance is:

this book is allegedly all about the cycle of life and death, and how dying is a natural part of life. except wilbur never dies; he becomes famous, and fame is a way to live forever. so really, the book values immortality more than it naturalizes death.

This student did not especially care for the book, I think. Or rather: she had issues with it.

it was interesting. this re-read of Charlotte's Web, for me, really focused on the wonderfully orderly structure of the book. it feels so organic - as it's meant to, i think. we move so easily from season to season, and White lingers over details of the natural world so beautifully - it's quite a symphony of words and structures, really.

i've never been a special fan of Charlotte's Web - i mean, it's a great book, I like it a lot, but it's never been one I hold especially close to my heart - but it's a beautiful piece of craft.


courtney said...

The fame/immortality idea is an interesting one, and I hadn't thought about it before.

But maybe it's more about memory as immortality? Especially with Wilbur sharing details about Charlotte with her daughters who stay?

I preferred Trumpet of the Swan, I think.

Just found your blog recently, and I have to say I am completely enthralled with the idea of studying children's literature. :)

Monica Edinger said...

As you know, I've been teaching this book to 4th graders for a couple of decades now and that issue of immortality is one I've thought of a lot. I mean, Wilbur is a special pig, a white one, and there is this sense at the end that unlike Charlotte he lives forever more. And go back and look at some of those illustrations --- that one with the web positioned right over his head like a halo?

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