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Does Creating a Fictional Story, about a Real Event, Help Us to Process Sadness?

Before developing his story about a barn spider, which he observed in his barn in Maine, E.B White—author of “Charlotte’s Web”—wrote an essay about one of his pigs who’d died of an apparent illness.

Even though the pig who died was always destined to become someone’s ham dinner, White was upset at its early death. “Evidently,” he wrote, that now-lost pig had “become precious to me.”

In “Charlotte’s Web,” White invented a pig named Wilbur who was befriended by a spider named Charlotte. This fictional pig avoided death in the smokehouse, thereby fulfilling a different purpose than just being part of the food chain.

Via his fictional story, in “Charlotte’s Web,” E.B. White gives his pig a different ending. Do you think a fictional story, about a non-fictional event, helps people to deal with sadness? How?

Have you ever experienced an event which caused you to be really sad? If so, do you think that writing a fictional story about that event—thereby allowing you to change the ending—would help you to feel less sad? Why, or why not?


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