Summary: Chapter XIX. The Egg Sac

When Wilbur awakes the next morning, he sees Charlotte in a high corner next to a cocoon-like sac. She seems smaller and sounds weak. Charlotte tells Wilbur she has made a strong, waterproof egg sac that contains 514 eggs, but she doesn’t think she’ll live to see her children. Templeton returns, stuffed from his night eating leftovers, and tells Wilbur and Charlotte that Uncle has a blue tag on his pen, meaning he won first prize. When they arrive at the fair, the Arables, the Zuckermans, and Lurvy spot the word HUMBLE in Charlotte’s web and rejoice but then notice that Uncle has already won. 

All feel upset, and Mrs. Zuckerman begins to cry, but Mr. Zuckerman tells them not to be sad and insists on giving Wilbur a buttermilk bath. People gather and admire how clean and humble Wilbur looks. Suddenly a voice comes over the loudspeaker, announcing that a special award will be given and asking Mr. Zuckerman to bring his pig to the judges’ booth. Everyone celebrates, and Charlotte feels content that she has saved Wilbur’s life. As they drive Wilbur to the judges, Fern glances at the Ferris wheel and wishes she were on it with Henry.

Summary: Chapter XX. The Hour of Triumph

The truck carrying Wilbur arrives at the judges’ booth, surrounded by onlookers. Avery is especially helpful in hoisting Wilbur’s crate up off the truck. Fern sees Henry and asks for money to treat him to a Ferris wheel ride. Mrs. Arable gives Fern forty cents, and she races off. The loudspeaker voice presents Wilbur to the crowd and reminds everyone of the mysterious writing in the spider’s web. The voice attributes the writing to supernatural forces because spiders cannot write. Mr. Zuckerman is awarded $25 and a bronze medal, and Wilbur faints from all the excitement. Mr. Zuckerman fans Wilbur with his cap and yells for Lurvy to fetch some water. Templeton, hidden in Wilbur’s crate, bites the pig’s tail, which revives him and makes him cry out. Everyone feels delighted. Mr. Zuckerman receives his award, and a photographer takes Wilbur’s picture. Just then Lurvy races up with a bucket of water to throw on Wilbur but misses, drenching Mr. Zuckerman and Avery instead. The crowd laughs, and Avery shows off. Eventually Wilbur is loaded back onto the truck and returned to his pen.

Analysis: Chapters XIX–XX

Thanks to Charlotte spinning “HUMBLE” into her web, fair goers see Wilbur as a special, humble pig. Although Wilbur loses to Uncle, the people at the fair flock to see him and admire him. The excitement of seeing Wilbur and the amazing web that Charlotte made draws more and more people into the fair. Because of this, Wilbur earns a special award of a bronze medal and $25. Even with the unexpected win, Wilbur remains humble. In fact, he is so shocked that he faints. Once again, Wilbur is both represented by and lives up to the word Charlotte chooses for him.

Just as Wilbur is humble, Charlotte’s humility is also apparent. Charlotte gave so much time and effort to make the webs to save Wilbur, yet she was not even present when Wilbur finally received his award. Ironically, her input was even dismissed as being a supernatural force—“the miracle of the web”—since no one believes spiders can actually write.

Meanwhile, Fern’s shift in attention is apparent as she is more interested in the Ferris wheel and Henry than the excitement surrounding Wilbur. She is now focusing her attention on boys instead of animals just as Dr. Dorian had predicted. This change in Fern is fitting as it happens at the end of the summer and at the beginning of the new season and reflects the inevitable march of time.