2018-11-07 19:50:16 UTC
I was looking through chapter 14 of the book (1952), since it occurred to me that there was a certain parallel between Dr. Dorian and the Professor in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (1950).
However, whether or not E.B. White ever read anything by C.S. Lewis (or heard his radio talks during the war years, which were the basis for "Mere Christianity"), there WAS a hint of sad foreshadowing in "Charlotte's Web" that most readers wouldn't notice. I never did, until now. (Hint - it's in the last sentence, here.)
“Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider’s web?”
“Oh, no,” said Dr. Dorian. “I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.”
“What’s miraculous about a spider’s web?” said Mrs. Arable. “I don’t see why you say a web is a miracle-it’s just a web.”
“Ever try to spin one?” asked Dr. Dorian.
Mrs. Arable shifted uneasily in her chair. “No,” she replied. “But I can crochet a doily and I can knit a sock.”
“Sure,” said the doctor. “But somebody taught you, didn’t they?”
“My mother taught me.”
“Well, who taught a spider? A young spider knows how to spin a web without any instructions from anybody. Don’t you regard that as a miracle?”
That indicates that Charlotte never knew her mother. (Some spiders die after laying their eggs.) So when SHE says it's time for her to lay eggs, some readers, at least, should guess what's going to happen, even before she drops a hint to Wilbur in chapter 19.
Of course, maybe Dr. Dorian was just saying that spiders don't need teaching, but who knows.