The War of the Worlds | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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Course Hero, "The War of the Worlds Study Guide," May 17, 2017, accessed July 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-War-of-the-Worlds/.

The War of the Worlds | Book 2, Chapter 6 : The Work of Fifteen Days | Summary

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Summary

The landscape before the narrator looks "of another planet," covered as it was in red weed. The narrator compares the feeling to the way a rabbit must feel when construction of a house ruins its burrow. He says humanity is now "under the Martian heel."

The narrator continues on his journey, wading through the red weed, foraging for food and water. He explains the red weed's susceptibility to bacteria. There are no other people or Martians, only hungry animals and skeletons, which leads the narrator to wonder if he is the only living person left.

Analysis

The author creates a postapocalyptic scene in this chapter. Earth and human civilization have been overthrown, covered in Martian weeds. The author again compares humans to animals, subservient to the whims and designs of a superior being. Like rabbits whose home is destroyed as humans build their own home on the land, "the fear and empire of man had passed," and man must give way to Martian rule. The overthrow of human civilization has been accomplished, and the narrator believes he may be the only human alive.

Readers learn that the red weed's weakness is a lack of resistance to certain bacteria. Natural selection has meant only plants with resistance have survived, but the red weed, never having encountered such bacteria before, has no protection. It flourishes for a time, but eventually it all dies and disappears from the landscape. The demise of the red weed foreshadows the fate of the Martians.

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