Charlotte's Web and Alice in Wonderland...

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"No one was with Charlotte when she died. That's how it ends" (207).


In this particular section of the story, Alice is watching television with her grandparents. This common practice, in my opinion, provides some common yet insightful dialogue. Alice seems to be so incredibly attuned to death... we've seen numerous examples throughout the novel. Here, this attunement is displayed when Alice says "No one was with Charlotte when she died. That's how it ends" (207) in response to granny's reference to one of Alice's favorite childhood books. Is it a mere coincidence that Williams associates Alice's life with SO much children's literature? Alice's name is a clear reference to Alice in Wonderland, and then on page 207 there is a reference to Charlotte's Web. Both stories have a darker side to them, clearly evident and obviously stated. I'll bet that not many people, however, remember that the last line of "Charlotte's Web" is that no one was with her when she died. Slightly morbid, I think.

The fact that Alice says this line just proves what I've been speculating all along: Alice has a strong attunement with death that others are clearly missing. When Alice says this, her granny states that "It couldn't have ended like that, I'm sure... That must be the next- to- the- last chapter" (207). Then, her poppa quickly changes the subject. Could this mean that no one is willing to confront death but Alice? Clearly, her grandparents are much closer to death than she is (physically). Psychologically, though, I think they're in that stage that Nurse Daisy was talking about- I can't find exactly where it is- when she was talking about the stage between life and death. It was right when we're first introduced to Green Meadows. Perhaps Williams is indicating that Alice is afraid for her grandparents?


Maybe the reason Alice is so attuned to death is she can see it in others, but feels far from it herself, especially because of the fact that she's basically stuck in a young girl's body. She feels dead on the inside, but she is far from dead on the outside. This conflict in her mind would allow her to better understand the concept of death, since humans learn from experience. Her grandparents are dying, but they're not yet dead. I don't think Alice is necessarily afraid for her grandparents, but she understands something about their future that they can't yet understand themselves.

Brooke Kuehn said:

Good point about the references to children's novels. I didn't pick up on that before. Maybe her saying that Charlotte died alone is foreshadowing or symbolic of Alice at the end of the book when she thinks "Alice the Alone" (304). I wonder why Charlotte's Web would be her favorite book. Could it be because she is so attuned with the concept of death and may have been the same way as a child? Was Alice in Wonderland ever mentioned in the book or was it just something we discussed in class because of the importance of the names?

JessicaOrlowski Author Profile Page said:

I agree that Alice feels dead on the inside and is far from dead on the outside, but I don't agree that the conflict inside of her allows her to understand death. I think that this conflict would confuse her more than anything. I believe that her observation of the death around her would cause her to better understand the concept of death. Maybe? lol

Jessica Orlowski said:

Maybe it's because people fear Charlotte because of what she is, a spider. Also, Charlotte has the power to create and the power to kill, and maybe Alice craves this power.

Also, Alice in Wonderland wasn't actually mentioned, but it was implied and was discussed in class.

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