Free Booknotes Summary for The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells-Free Study Guide
Previous Page | Table
of Contents | Next Page
Downloadable / Printable Version
Most of the story
takes place in the small towns found in the countryside of England. The narrator’s
home is in Woking, and the first few chapters mostly take place here. He then
takes his wife to Leatherhead to save her from the Martians. In his own attempts
to escape them, he makes his way through a number of towns including Weybridge
and Shepperton (the scene of a Martian attack), Sheen (where the fifth cylinder
landed, burying the house with the narrator and curate), and Putney Hill (the
location of the artilleryman). London is also an important place in the book.
The story of the narrator’s brother tells of the mass flight out of that city
and the narrator himself ends up there in the end of the book, where he finds
the Martians dead of disease.
As the Martians move from place to place,
the imagery changes drastically. In the beginning, the Earth looks as one would
expect; in the end, dead and dying people are in the roads, buildings lay in ruins,
and black dust and red weeds cover everything.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
A philosopher by occupation, his writing is interrupted by the
arrival of the Martians, of which he is one of the first to know. He survives
a number of close calls but lives past the end of the invasion. With the
exception of a few days insanity after finding the dead Martians, the
narrator is a character with a strong grip on reality, though his reality
becomes one he never thought possible. With determination, good judgment,
and a will to live, he comes out of the ordeal in a much better state
than many others.
A species that has developed great mental, and along with it, technical
abilities in order to escape their planet, which is rapidly becoming uninhabitable.
Physically, they resemble an octopus, with their many tentacles and a
head that stands without a body, and they feed by injecting the blood
from a live organism into themselves. They show no signs of mercy when
they arrive on Earth, their intent being conquest rather than compromise.
They also show signs of recent awareness of microorganisms, and are killed
by an earthly bacteria.
After escaping a Martian’s Heat-Ray as a result of his horse
tripping, he wanders into the garden of the narrator, who takes him in.
When they set off the next day, the artilleryman demonstrates a great
sense of logic and caution, insisting on taking provisions and taking
care to avoid the third cylinder. He joins back up with the military and
is not heard from again until the narrator encounters him on Putney Hill.
There it is clear that he has undergone quite a mental change. The former
artilleryman has formed big, unrealistic plans while becoming content
to drink and play games. The narrator leaves him shortly and his eventual
fate is unknown.
The representative of religion, who is not shown in a very positive
light. He becomes extremely distraught and senseless after seeing the
destruction of his church and all of Weybridge. He is unwilling to part
with the narrator, though their two personalities are completely incompatible.
When they become trapped in the house together, the curate does not heed
the need to ration or keep quiet. The narrator ends up hitting him in
the head with a meat chopper in order to avoid attracting the Martians’
attention. It is too late for this, and when one comes to investigate,
it pulls out the curate’s body.
A medical student whose tale is related by the narrator in order
to show what went on in London. After fleeing London among the crowds
in the early morning hours, he meets up with the wife and sister of George
Elphinstone and travels with them. Like the narrator, he is also logical
with good sense, as he demonstrates throughout their trip (particularly
when he attempts to stop the man who will be killed picking up money)
to the Thames to secure passage out of Britain.
She affects the plot more through providing a direction and motivation
to the narrator’s actions rather than through her own actions. She is
concerned from the narrator’s first recounting of the Martians about the
dinner table and is still pale with concern when she and the narrator
part in Leatherhead. He misses and thinks of her a lot, and his plans
center around tracking her down. Both, having had the same desire to return
home, however hopeless, they are reunited in the end.
The astronomer who is one of the few to take an interest in the
Martians from the start. He sets off to find the fallen star (which was
actually the first cylinder, but he is slow to accept this), and when
he does, he tells Henderson, starting the spread of news. He is among
the group of men attempting to uncover the cylinder and shortly afterward,
a member of the failed and burned Deputation.
A London journalist, who is the first to accept Ogilvy’s news
of the landed cylinder. He goes with him to see and sends out the news
when he returns. He also participates in the excavation efforts and the
He is in a similar situation to the wife, in that he is not really
a developed character but affects the plot through his affect on the narrator.
He lends the narrator his dog cart since he fails to understand the magnitude
of the Martian threat. On his return home after the Martian defeat, the
narrator needs time to reflect on the scene of the broken dog cart and
news of the landlord’s burial.
Wife and Sister of George Elphinstone
Page | Table of Contents | Next Page
The two women who travel with the narrator’s brother. The wife
is passive and her thoughts concern the fate of her husband almost exclusively.
The sister is much more up to the situation, from coming back with a revolver
to scare off the men to persuading her sister-in-law to get on the steamer.
Downloadable / Printable Version
Free Booknotes Summary for The War of the Worlds
by H.G. Wells-Free Study Guide