Charlotte’s Web Study Question #1 (To up my grade on Charlotte’s Web Taxonomy assignment)
What is a runt? How does this portray the differences between parents and children? Are their values different? Explain.
In the dictionary a runt is described as a small or weak specimen of any animal, person or thing. The word runt can be used to mean someone or something that does not live up to a set standard. A runt may be something that can not be used for its intended purpose, although it is still existing or living. In a child’s eyes, a runt may mean helpless, cute, and in need of extra attention, like a child. Fern says, “The pig couldn’t help being born small” (3). To an adult a runt may mean useless and a waste of time. “’It will never amount to anything” (1). “Weaklings make trouble” (3).
In these two different definitions we can see a difference between children and parents. Children make a direct connection to a runt. Children themselves are smaller and less able than adults are. A threat to a runt may be interpreted as a direct threat to a child. Fern asks her father if he would have killed her if she had been born small. Fern sees “no difference” (3) between her life and the pig’s life. But her father states that a “girl is one thing, a little runt pig is another” (3). Adults make a differentiation between human life and animal life. Adults categorize things differently than children do. When discussing the killing of the pig Fern’s mother says that Fern’s father will “do away with it” (1). Fern than states what this really means which is to “kill it!” (1). Children will state things for how they really are. Adults can have many different interpretations of the same action.
In these differing views, it is clear that adults and children have different values. Fern’s parents valued the usefulness of things. They did not feel that the runt pig would produce much, so it would be a burden. Her parents, being farmers, had an economic basis for their decisions. They needed to ensure that they could make a living and provide for their family. They felt that killing the runt pig was justified because of the economic reasoning behind it. Fern valued a being’s right to live no matter what. She believed that killing something just because it was smaller was not right. She referred to her parents’ decision as an act of “injustice” (3). Children seem to be driven by a humane view on the world. Harm or death should not be inflicted on anyone, under any circumstances. Nurture and comfort is seen as necessary to children. Adults are driven by a more economic viewpoint. Practicality is a top priority, and this practicality is based on usefulness. Children value life while adults value living. Adults believe in survival of the fittest while children believe in the survival of all.