The War of the Worlds | Study Guide

H.G. Wells

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The War of the Worlds | Book 2, Chapter 9 : Wreckage | Summary

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Summary

The narrator loses his memory of the three days following the Martians' demise. He learns that others had made the discovery of the fall of the invaders before him and had managed to telegraph Paris. News had spread, and aid was on its way. Survivors emerge, repairs begin, food is brought in from outside, and trains began to run again.

A kind family takes the narrator into their home after he had wandered, out of his mind, for three days. They tell him Leatherhead and everyone in it has been destroyed. The narrator feels very sad and stays with the family for four more days before he follows his desire to visit his old home in Woking again. He takes the train but walks the final part, revisiting locations of significant recent events along the way.

When he reaches home the narrator is surprised by his wife and cousin, who had come to see if he had somehow survived. His wife faints in his arms.

Analysis

In this penultimate chapter, the author illustrates the ultimate triumph of humanity, not through a forceful overthrow of the Martians, but in humans' resilience, resourcefulness, and hope. Even with a great number of Martians in central London, some people manage to survive. Even though the Martians systematically target the trains and telegraphs, one person manages to send a telegraph message of their deaths to Paris, and the railway is back up and running quickly. The narrator's wife returns to their home, hoping her husband has somehow survived, and exclaims when she's sees him, "I came ... I knew." The Martians were not able to defeat the human spirit.

Through the narrator's trip back home, the author helps readers review important events in the narrative. Readers are reminded of just what a long journey the narrator has taken and of all the people he has encountered, horrors he has witnessed, and suffering he has endured. At the end of the journey he finds his greatest hope realized and what has kept him moving forward.

When the narrator and his wife are reunited, readers may better understand why the genre was originally categorized as scientific romance. The author uses mirroring language to describe their meeting: "and there amazed and afraid, even as I stood amazed and afraid" was his wife. With a melodramatic flourish the chapter ends with the wife fainting and the narrator catching her in his arms.

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