Essay: The Poetic License to Kill

In E.B. White's lovely fable Charlotte's Web, the literate spider Charlotte saves a pig named Wilbur from execution by spinning blurbs about him in the barn doorway: SOME PIG, RADIANT, and so on. The astonished farm folk put away their thoughts of slaughter; they no longer regard Wilbur as pork, but as a tourist attraction, and even a celebrity who enjoys the favor of higher powers. Sweet Wilbur will survive to grow old in the barnyard. He gratefully sighs, "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer."

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