Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Spiders, Armenia, & Mohammed

Marash Girl had always been told never to hurt a spider, that spiders are good, that they trap and eat flies and mosquitos. Thus, she never destroyed a spider or a spider's web and rather saw the spider's web as a work of art.  If a spider happened to saunter into her city house, she would simply pick it up and put it outside where it belonged; if it wandered into the cabin in Wilbraham, she let it stay, unmolested, to feast on all the other insects that made their way through the eaves of the summer cottage.

Marash Girl knew the reason spiders were protected, and when her friend Mariam related that in Armenia, folks never hurt spiders, she assumed that Mariam knew the reason, but Mariam did not.  And so, as a dutiful friend, Marash Girl shared the apocryphal tale of Mohammed, who when fleeing from his enemies, hid in a cave.  The enemies, happening upon the cave some time later, assumed that Mohammed could not be hiding there, as there was a spider's web covering the entire entrance to the cave.  The enemies passed by, and Mohammed was saved from certain death, as was the spinner of the web, the spider who forever after would never again be harmed by the peoples of the Near East.

I wonder if E. B. White knew of this story when he wrote CHARLOTTE'S WEB?

1 comment:

  1. spiders working in hyper-drive, no doubt, or the prototypical italian spider, drunk on triple espressos, spun the web in the twinkling of an arab's eye... the last twinkle, until the West created TWINKIES, a product guaranteed to remove the mote and the twinkle from anybody's eyes.