Summary: Chapter XVII. Uncle 

At the fair, Mr. and Mrs. Arable give Fern and Avery money to go off and have some fun on their own. When Wilbur is unloaded, people gather to watch. Charlotte scurries out of his crate to a high post and sees a huge hog in the next pen. He tells her to call him Uncle and cracks a weak joke, but Charlotte doesn’t care for him. She warns Wilbur that Uncle may be hard to beat for a prize because of his size. Charlotte feels tired, and Wilbur notices she looks swollen. She takes a nap while people come to admire Wilbur. Wilbur worries when he hears people comment favorably on Uncle.

Summary: Chapter XVIII. The Cool of the Evening

Templeton creeps out of Wilbur’s crate to explore the fair. Charlotte tells him to bring back a word for her to write for the last time. Fern meets Henry Fussy, who buys a ticket for her to ride the Ferris wheel with him. After eating a leftover lunch, Templeton tears the word humble out of its newspaper wrapping, brings it back to Charlotte, and then goes off to gorge himself on more food. Charlotte weaves HUMBLE into her web, but as the Arables, the Zuckermans, and Lurvy return after dark, they fail to notice the new word. The families drive home after their long day at the fair. Wilbur asks Charlotte to sing, but she feels too tired. She tells Wilbur she is making a masterpiece, which she will show him tomorrow. Back at the Arable home, Fern tells her mother she had the best time of her life at the fair.

Analysis: Chapters XVII–XVIII

Wilbur’s fear for his life is apparent as he reaches the fair and learns that the hog next to him, Uncle, is much larger than him and might be more likely to win the prize. Wilbur compares himself to Uncle, but Charlotte reassures Wilbur that he has much better qualities. Comparing himself to Uncle is reminiscent of Wilbur comparing himself to Charlotte, but he gets over the feeling of insecurity quicker than he did with Charlotte. However, Wilbur believes that his fate hinges on winning the prize money for Mr. Zuckerman, and he is anxious to see whether he and Charlotte can pull of another miracle.

Charlotte compliments Wilbur for his personality, and Wilbur stays humble in response. Similar to the question of what makes a good friend, this brings to mind the question of what a person’s inherent value is. Charlotte reassures Wilbur that he is wonderful despite not having the size that Uncle has. She argues that Wilbur has a much more pleasant personality and disapproves of Uncle’s humor. In Charlotte’s estimation, Wilbur is the better pig.

Despite Charlotte’s fatigue, she spins a final word for Wilbur in her web. She spins “HUMBLE” into her web, which fits Wilbur well. He may be smaller than Uncle and he may not particularly special, but that is what makes him special. The web not only showcases Wilbur’s humility, but it also shows Charlotte’s humility. Despite being tired and having other things to do, she spends her time reassuring Wilbur and helping him the best that she can. At this point, the reader also begins to worry about Charlotte who is too tired to sing to Wilbur and appears to be dangerously weak. This realization gives deeper meaning to Charlotte's actions, as she begins to work on making something for herself.

Meanwhile, Fern shows evidence of growing up as she focuses on people at the fair instead of animals. She is excited to run off and enjoy the fun of the fair with her brother instead of waiting for Wilbur to be settled into his pen. Fern’s friendship with Henry shows that she is leaving behind her preoccupation with the animals and the natural world and beginning to find her place among people. Fern is growing up and it makes her mother both happy and sad at the same time.