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E.B. White and Charlotte’s Web

December 23rd, 2006

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. It it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

— E.B. White, writer (1899-1985)

We saw Charlotte’s Web on Thursday, the new one. (The actors who voiced the animals were great, as was Dakota Fanning, who plays Fern.) Wacky Girl kept sneaking little sidelong looks at me during the movie, Is she crying yet? No. Now? No. So stoic, my kids. They never cry at books or movies, and they only rarely sob about real life. (Right before winter break, Wacky Girl saw someone at school pitch a major tantrum and asked me later, “What was up with her, anyway?”)

She knows how I feel about Charlotte’s Web because I won’t read it with her. She’s read it with her dad three or four times, she reads it sometimes by herself, but for me, I can’t get over Charlotte dying.

“But her babies live!” Wacky Girl tells me. Spoken like a true spawn.

Unlike many creatures, I’m here to do more than live for one mere year (possibly less) have my babies, nurture my babies (or possibly not be allowed that opportunity) and die. I hope I’m here for more than that. But some days (weeks, years) it does seem like that’s my only purpose. I hate that. I love mothering, but I hate having it define me. Being seen as a “bitch,” or worse, “a fat bitch,” who is here just to mother. Gestate, nurse, mother. Gestate, nurse, mother. Die.

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

Of course I cried.

1 Comment

  1. leslie says

    I love the “true friend and a good writer” line. In fact I think that it’s my favorite line in all of literature. But it’s so hard to be a good friend and a good writer–really it is. At least to feel like a good friend as you write, as you cannibalize other people’s lives, even if they’ve given you “permission.” Maybe if you stick to one word at a time, it’s doable, but anything more and it’s nearly impossible. That’s just the way it is.

    December 27th, 2006 | #

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