Now that you have read about anthropomorphism, completing the Anthropomorphism Chart will help you dissect characteristics that are often attributed to some animals in children’s literature.
“According to Jack David Zipes in his book Aesop’s Fables, ‘the purpose of most fable writers has been to address a specific social problem of their times and to draw a universal lesson that may be applicable in other situations and epochs. What White makes us aware of in Charlotte’s Web is how self-involved humans can be and how blind they often are to the wonders of the world around them.
“As America began to prosper after the war (WWII), many people became more and more concerned with material wealth. The Beatniks – and the beat generation – was an anti-materialist literary movement which reached its height in the 1950s. Written after the Second World War and as American manufacturing and construction was on the rise, Charlotte’s Web also reacts against materialism and reminds us, during this time of American economic gain, of the simple yet astonishing pleasures in life. White’s use of anthropomorphic animals in Charlotte’s Web not only fulfills a key criteria of the fable tradition but also provides us with the opportunity to laugh at human folly — specifically, by supplying us with examples of human behavior to be avoided and not emulated.
“In Charlotte’s Web, White illustrates the power of love and creativity in contrast with material success and status. After all, a runt pig (who promises nothing when it is born) becomes the object of fame and success essentially because of the love bestowed on him by Fern and Charlotte. Although the humans in the novel think they have been blessed with an extraordinary pig, what they witness is extraordinary love between Charlotte and Wilbur, and that itself is the miracle of the story” (“Charlotte’s Web.” Grade Saver Study Guide.)
3. View the 2006 SWANK movie titled Charlotte’s Web (Links to an external site.) based on E.B. White’s story by the same name, taking note (on your chart) for how anthropomorphism is used in characters to “address a specific social problem of that time (early 1950s) and to draw a universal lesson that may be applicable in other situations and epochs” (Zipes). Identify the social problem and the universal lesson that are being characterized through White’s story. (If you have trouble accessing the 2006 Charlotte’s Web movie through SWANK, refer to the SWANK Guidelines. (Links to an external site.))
4. Submit your completed chart as a docx file.
To submit your work: Click the Submit Assignment button (top right of screen).
This assignment is worth up to 10 points toward your final grade. Your chart needs to show thoughtful and complete work. Thinking and writing about human qualities humans tend to give to non-human creatures and about how social problems and universal lessons are represented through those qualities will help prepare you for the online discussion writing you will complete next.
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