It is often easy to ignore or mistreat the outcast; not only because they are so often made invisible by society, but also because they are often made undesirable. The protagonists in Charlotte’s Web and Hana’s Suitcase, are both left out of the societies around them. Though their situations are vastly different, Hana Brady and Wilbur the pig in Charlotte’s Web are both in conflict with societal norms and constantly being uprooted from their natural surroundings. They start out in life happy and with a positive outlook for the future; both appear to have a solid support system; both are ultimately shocked to realize that things are not as they seem and physical upheaval can happen at any moment.
In Hana’s Suitcase, the reader learns early on that Hana was born into a happy but hard-working family in a small town in the hills Czechoslovakia. The Brady House was often full of singing, dancing and guests. All of this changed when Adolf Hitler began to rise to power in nearby Germany.[“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]By 1938 other Jews in the Brady’s small town were getting nervous and, as the war escalated, the Nazis began taking harsher measures to control the Jews. Hana, used to having endless activities available to her and many friends from which to choose, had nearly everything taken away from her:
But gradually, as the months dragged on, all Hana’s playmates, even Maria, stopped coming over after school and on the weekends. Maria’s parents had ordered her to stay away from Hana. They were afraid the Nazis would punish their whole family for allowing Maria to be friends with a Jewish child. Hana was terribly lonely. (Levine, 25)
Hana’s world is changed because the political climate of her own society caused her to be an outcast. Her voice and agency are taken away and her life is forfeit. When Fumiko decides to discover and share Hana’s story, she is giving her a voice. After meeting Fumiko and the Little Angels Club, Hana’s brother, George, reflects on his feelings regarding his sister:
George realized that, in the end, one of Hana’s wishes had come true. Hana had become a teacher, Because of her – her suitcase and her story – thousands of Japanese children were learning about what George believed ot be the most important values in the world: tolerance, respect, and compassion. (Levine, 81)
When they were taken from their home, George felt responsible for Hana. He blamed himself for her murder at Auschwitz, despite the fact that he had no power over their movement either.
In Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur, the runt of the litter, is saved from being killed at birth. He doesn’t understand his situation in life right away, but when it becomes clear that he is to be eaten. He says to Charlotte, “Were you serious when you promised you would keep them from killing me?” (White, 54) Though Wilbur is still threatened by his place in society, it is clear that he knows there is nothing he can do himself to prevent from being killed. Charlotte, from a different place, is able to step in and give Wilbur a voice.
Though they are from vastly different physical worlds, Hana and Wilbur are both very much affected by the physical worlds they inhabit. Born into a happy family, Hana was content in comfortable surroundings during her early childhood, but the persecution of the Jewish people in Czechoslovakia made these surroundings uncomfortable. When the Nazis began enforcing further prohibitions regarding Jews, Hana was uprooted from her home and forced to move several times. She was at odds with her surroundings and the constant movement from one set of unfamiliar, threatening surroundings to another causes her to be constantly unsure of herself and her future.[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Like Hana, Wilbur is not able to control his physical surroundings and has little choice regarding the spaces he inhabits. Charlotte begins to weave words of praise for Wilbur into her web and his physical conditions change.
Wilbur lay down in the clean straw. He closed his eyes. The straw seemed scratchy – not as comfortable as the cow manure, which was always delightfully soft to lie in. So he pushed the straw to one side and stretched out in the manure. (White, 86)
Though the farmer surely believes he is doing Wilbur a service by letting him sleep in clean hay, Wilbur would have made a different choice if he had been able.
Wilbur and Hana are outsiders in their societies. Both protagonists are shown, by words and actions of those around them, that their lives are less valuable than those of others. Their voices are taken away from them and they are moved without consent from one home to the next. They are isolated by their differentness and do not feel comfortable in the physical situations they are in. Being outcasts through no agency of their own, Wilbur and Hana suffer similar conflicts regarding their societies and natural worlds. [Click Essay Writer to order your essay
Levine, Karen. Hana’s Suitcase. Second Story Press. 2002.
White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web. Scholastic, Inc. 1952.