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The War of the Worlds | Motifs



Daily newspapers were the primary source for local and world news in the 19th century. Their regularity became a part of the rhythm of each day, as readers see at the start of the novel. The interruption of that regularity is a signal that something is very wrong. The "unnaturally early" papers in London signal the approaching invaders.

Newspapers are a way to track the progress of the invasion and to learn more about the Martians. The narrator and his brother regularly seek information about the invasion from the newspapers, even as services are increasingly disrupted by the chaos the Martians create. As newspapers cease to be printed at the height of the invasion, Martian dominance is clear, even as their reappearance after the death of the Martians signals a return to normal life.

Red Weed

This plant grown from Martian seeds spreads quickly throughout the country. It grows waist high, obscuring roads and covering buildings. It grows especially well near water. The author uses the spread of the weed to mirror the invasion of the Martians. It slowly takes over, making the country increasingly unrecognizable, as it "choked St. Edmund's Terrace" and "clamber[ed] over the buttresses of Waterloo Bridge." The mysterious weed is unmistakably foreign to Earth, appearing wherever the Martians have been, tracing their path toward London. Like the aliens, the weed succumbs to bacterial infection and dies off, giving readers the first hint to the Martians' weakness.

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