The War of the Worlds-Chapter Summaries
Chapter 1: The Eve of the War
* At first, we don’t actually know who is talking-is it a narrator, or a character in the story? * We learn that it is a character that narrates the story. He informs us of what the Martians are like, and gives us some background information on how Mars is losing its natural resources, and that perhaps the possibility of Martians invading Earth could become reality. This makes us even more against the idea of them invading and stealing our resources, but the narrator reminds us that that’s exactly what humans have been doing to each other for years. * The narrator reveals himself as someone in the story, though someone without a name. * The narrator meets Ogilvy, who is an astronomer and invites him to the observatory to see the strange lights on Mars. * Ogilvy doesn’t believe that Mars holds intelligent life. He believes that the lights are volcanoes or meteorites falling on Mars. * The newspapers publish stories of these strange lights, but nobody really pays much attention to this, as no one can guess what they are. People go about their usual business-for example, the narrator spends his time learning to ride a bike.
Chapter 2: The Falling Star
* Many people see a falling star one Thursday night.
* Ogilvy goes out to find the meteorite, which he believes fell somewhere along Horsell Common. He finds it, but this one is different to others-it is cylindrical and is making strange noises. It then starts to open, which is very odd. * The news is leaked into London of the strange meteorite. * The narrator reads the story, and rushes off to see for himself.
Chapter 3: On Horsell Common
* The narrator arrives on the common, and sees a small crowd of people gathered around the cylinder. * However, the cylinder is not really exiting unless you’re a scientific person. According to the narrator, it’s less exiting at first glance than ‘an overturned carriage or a tree blown across the road.’ * The narrator is impatient to see what is inside the cylinder. But, since nothing is happening, he leaves, and returns later that afternoon.
Chapter 4: The Cylinder Opens
* The narrator returns to discover an even larger crowd, all pushing to see the cylinder. * The cylinder then opens, and the narrator admits that he expected something sort of like a man to emerge, but instead what comes out is snake-like tentacles and a body about the size of a bear and skin that glistens like ‘wet leather’. * Everyone runs away from the Martian just because it looks horrible, what with its saliva-dripping, lipless mouth and big, luminous eyes, not to forget the tentacles. * Since all of the people have gone for cover to hide, the area by the crater is now a human-free zone, with just some horses and carts.
Chapter 5: The Heat Ray
* The narrator keeps flitting between fear and curiosity-he is ‘a battleground’ between these two feelings. He returns to the pit, to get a better view, as his curiosity had overruled his fear. * Many other people have returned to the pit, some walking closely to the cylinder waving white flags to show their peaceful intentions. * There’s a flash of light in the pit, and some bright green smoke. As people get closer, a dome-like object rises out of the pit, shooting around. This was the heat ray. * Nowadays, we have lasers and flamethrowers, so this might not sound so amazing to us, but imagine reading this in 1898: ‘It was as if some invisible jet impinged upon them and flashed into white flame. It was as if each man were suddenly and momentarily turned to fire.’ * The narrator is so shocked by this that he doesn’t realise that people are dying. ‘All I felt was that it was something very strange.’ He is so shocked that he doesn’t move and would’ve died, but the Heat-Ray happens to miss him. * Eventually realises his situation-aliens are shooting...
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