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Summary of The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND ANALYSIS

Chapter Nine - Wreckage


Summary


As it turns out, the narrator was not the first to find out that the Martians had died off but instead one of the last. The previous night, others had found out and the first man to do so had sent off a telegraph to Paris. The news spreading joyfully about the world from there and food and men had begun pouring into London soon after.

The narrator himself does not the three days after his discovery, when he had apparently been wandering about London insanely until a family took him in. When his mental state became more stable, they told him that Leatherhead had been wiped out during the early days of his time in the buried house with the curate. He leaves soon after to return sadly to his old house.

By that time, some shops were open and many people were about but one did not have to look very hard at them to see the signs of wear. The “Daily News” had already started publishing again, and the narrator buys a copy that was near red weeds, though the report contains little information except that flying is now understood, because of the Martians’ flying-machine.

A few days have passed so many people have already returned home and the free trains that are running (temporary tracks have been laid in parts) are almost empty now. The narrator gets on one and looks out the window at the destruction that is of varying degrees from town to town. Making his way home, he sees many sights that remind him of the past weeks under the Martians, particularly the broken dog cart which still lies where it had fallen over.

He enters the house and walks through it, finding it just as he left it. The paper he had been working on trails off in the middle of a sentence about what the future holds, so that it now takes on a more significant meaning. Then he takes a step toward the dining room window and sees his wife and cousin.


They had also returned and stood now in the same shock at the sight of him as he felt. His wife almost faints and the narrator moves and catches her in his arms.


Notes


A parallel exists between chapters through the figures standing outside doors. There had been a dead woman in the previous chapter and now there is a man who welcomes the narrator back by name. The world is gradually taking on a more familiar tone and appearance.


Chapter Ten - The Epilogue


Summary


The bacteria that killed off the Martians was a known earthly strain and this, along with the apparent lack of burial rites and their indiscriminate killing seem to indicate that the Martians were unfamiliar with death as we know it on Earth but nothing is certain. The makeup of the Black-Smoke remains a mystery as does the Heat-Ray, an examination of which was discouraged. There is still fear of further Martian attacks, though this is somewhat lessened by evidence to indicate that they may have landed on Venus.

Martians being on Earth did have some positive effects. It disrupted the human sense of security that can lead towards wasteful behavior. The traditional, limited views of the heavens were broadened so that now even the thought of men one day expanding to other planets has become more of a possibility. Also, the Martians, less intentionally, brought about many advances in science and did much to unite mankind.

The narrator frequently lapses into flashbacks of sorts, sparked by observing the activities to people that had once been so easily accepted as everyday. “And strangest of all is it to hold my wife’s hand again, and to think that I have counted her, and that she has counted me, among the dead.”


Notes


Citing “Carver’s suggestions,” and naming specific places throughout, adds credibility to the story. Wells’ books often balance between an imaginative plot and details and experiences of real life. This kind of structure has influenced much of science fiction that came after him.



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Summary of The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

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