The War of the Worlds | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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The War of the Worlds | Book 2, Chapter 10 : The Epilogue | Summary

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Summary

The narrator begins the final chapter by expressing his regret that he is unable to answer every question about the Martians but goes on to share what has been learned about their demise, weapons, and bodies. The narrator shares his concern about the likelihood of another attack and his ideas about how humans should prepare and act. He says the invasion has expanded man's understanding of the universe, which may be useful if Earth meets the same fate as Mars.

The narrator reflects on the continuing impacts of his traumatic experiences, which include flashbacks and recurring nightmares. The normality of everyday life seems strange to him now as he recalls what he has been through, but what is most incredible is that he and his wife were able to reunite despite the circumstances.

Analysis

The author uses the final chapter to recap several themes, including technology and fear. Through scientific study of Martian bodies, weapons, and machines after their deaths, humankind has been able to make only a limited number of determinations. The technology of the Martians is so superior to that of humans that it defies complete explanation. The author adds a new twist to the theme of fear by showing its lingering effects. Although the event that caused the fear has passed, the narrator still suffers when something causes him to relive those moments. Fear also creates worry about the future and the possibility of another invasion.

The author suggests realism in the narrator's final report about what scientists have learned about the Martians through careful study of their bodies, weapons, and machines. Rather than offer complete explanations for each one, Wells creates a much more believable and detailed account of what these scientists of the future have been able to learn, as well as the obstacles and failures they have faced. The narrator says scientists are fairly certain about what caused the Martians' deaths but "it is by no means a proven conclusion." The unnamed but "terrible disasters" at two laboratories precluded any further studies of the Heat-Ray, and the black powder contains "an unknown element."

Readers may even forget for a moment they are reading fiction when the narrator mentions the nearly complete body of a Martian can be viewed "in spirits at the Natural History Museum" and that children play around the Martian machine that remains on Primrose Hill. This chapter is a good example of what Wells did best: "fantasy made credible by the quiet realism of its setting."

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