Charlotte's Web, a children's classic by the well respected E. B. White, offered me many things to think about. One of which were the many stereotypes I found in this book.
Although at a first read, one might not notice these stereotypes, the second time reading feels like a smack across the face. I thought to myself, Hey, why didn't I notice this beforehand?
At the beginning of the story, Mrs. Arable is at the kitchen when young little Fern enters the kitchen. Fern asked where her father was off to with an axe and Mrs. Arable gave no mind to it than to say, he's off to the barn. Little Fern becomes suspicious to this and asks why the axe had any relevance to that at all. Mrs. Arable's reply is that some pigs were born last night and one of them was a runt so he "must" do away with it. The reason I put "must" in quotation marks is that I don't find this to be necessarily true. Not only because it is wrong, but because after deep thinking, I found this as my first stereotype of the book. Now you may not think so, but I think women tend to believe anything their husband tells them without giving it a second thought. I can't imagine Mrs. Arable being heartless only because she a mother figure and surely she must understand how heart wrenching it would be to lose a child of her own. I'm sure she HAD to have doubted this as the right thing to do or else that's just, well that's just plain mean. But of course, as most women tend to do, if the husband said it, the husband must be right and the wife must believe it.
After a brief battle with her father, Little Fern has "adopted" her new pig, Wilbur. She takes on the role of a mother rather professionally. Most young girls want nothing more than to grow up and in a way, become a mom too. I think this is a stereotype because in way, girls are being singled out as maternal and nurturing and knowing exactly what to do when handed a baby. Don't get me wrong though, I love Fern's character, I just thought this wasn't exactly fair thoe the world of young girls.
Of course, which stereotypical family is complete without a brother to be the exact opposite of his sister? Avery, Fern's brother, takes on the role as the brother that just likes to shoot stuff. First of all, Avery walks into the kitchen with an air rifle in hand. Does anyone ELSE see the wrong in that?! And as if that weren't enough, he complains about not having the same rights/ opportunities as his sister. Brothers tend to want the same rights as their siblings regardless of whether they deserve it or not. Then, which I find to be worst of all, is the fact that Avery actually takes the gun with him to school! Where is the discipline?
I know I may be sounding sexist right about now but hey, E. B. White wrote it not me. This is just what came to mind as i read Charlotte's Web.