Summary: Chapter VII. Bad News

Wilbur likes Charlotte more and more, and he grows bigger day by day. The oldest sheep tells Wilbur that the Zuckermans are fattening him up in order to kill him at Christmastime and make ham and bacon from him. Shocked and terrified by this news, Wilbur cries out for someone to save him. Charlotte declares that she will save Wilbur but that he must stop crying and behaving childishly. 

Summary: Chapter VIII. A Talk at Home

Fern tells her parents about the conversations she hears the animals have when she visits the Zuckermans’ barn. Her father doesn’t feel overly concerned, but her mother worries and says she will ask the family doctor, Dr. Dorian, about Fern’s behavior.

Analysis: Chapters VII–VIII

The conflict continues to build as Wilbur finally learns that the Zuckermans intend to slaughter him. While this possibility has been apparent to the reader, Wilbur’s realization is shocking and distressing. He is not exempt from the cruelties of the world, and at this point he feels helpless.

Both Fern and Wilbur are expected to act maturely despite their age. Charlotte scolds Wilbur for acting childishly when he is upset by the news of the Zuckermans’ plans. While she agrees that the news is distressing, Charlotte tells him to stop crying and act with composure. Meanwhile, Fern’s mother is concerned by Fern’s claims that she hears stories from the animals in the barn. Her mother wants to talk to the doctor about her while her father thinks she is fine. Her parents wonder, though, if spending so much time at the farm is good for Fern. Ultimately, both Wilbur and Fern are expected to do away with childish things. While the older figures in their lives acknowledge their age, they still have to face the reality of growing up.