Summary of The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells |
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The artilleryman in the beginning is the only one of his group that survives, as the result of an accident-his horse trips and he ends up pinned under it. This indicates that fighting often involves heavy loss of life and many mishaps. He is useful in that he teaches the narrator to take provisions and to avoid danger when possible.
When the narrator sees him again, this has gone to the extreme and the artilleryman is concerned only with food and drink. Though he thinks up great plans, he is not able to carry them out. Most meaningful are the card games played to divide up London. This is a criticism that the military does not take war seriously enough. The narrator does not approve of this lifestyle, as Wells, a strong advocate of world peace, did not.
The curate represents religion, though in a very negative light. Like the artilleryman, by his very occupation, the curate is attached to the church. When this is destroyed by the Martians’ Heat-Ray, he quickly falls apart and is left with nothing but fragmented thoughts that he has committed sins. This is Wells’ criticism of organized religion, which he seems to feel is merely a product of society that has little basis beyond guilt.
When the narrator first meets him, the curate can only focus on the flames at a distance but the narrator wants water. The flames represent Hell and the eternal punishment that the curate is terrified of, whereas the narrator’s water represents earthly matters, meaning that when religion focuses on the afterlife, it ignores the immediate concerns of life itself.
The curate’s frequent emotional outbursts and general lack of helpfulness indicate that religion has nothing practical to offer believers. When the narrator tries to reason with him, it is representative of the debate between science and religion, and this book clearly favors the former. This is not because of a lack of belief in religion on Wells’ part but more to point out the problems he saw in the practice of religion.
A part of the story primarily to add an experience besides that of the narrator, the brother represents the similar ideas of civilization. He risks his own life to save the two women and later the man with the broken bag of money. He is levelheaded in his actions, going into the fleeing crowd even though he does not want to because he knows he must, and persuading Mrs. Elphinstone that she must come along on the ship out of Britain.
It is also important that the brother is a medical student in London. He also flees when the Martians approach. As he is introduced to the story immediately after the curate, this indicates that science as well does not have all the answers.
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McCauley, Kelly. "TheBestNotes on The War of the Worlds".
. 09 May 2017