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The Red Room

The Red Room


by H.G. Wells

The Narrator Timeline and Summary

  • The narrator announces to the old custodians that he’s not going to be easily scared by any ghost, and that he doesn’t believe in ghosts in the first place.
  • He affirms that he will spend the night in the red room.
  • In spite of the warnings of the old custodians, the narrator holds firm in his intention to stay in the red room, and asks for directions to it.
  • The narrator leaves the custodians behind in the housekeeper’s room, takes a candle, and walks up the spiral staircase to the long passageway. He thinks about how strange the custodians are, and dismisses their superstitions.
  • At the top of the stairs, he thinks he hears something, but listens and finds only silence.
  • In the long passageway, the narrator encounters the Ganymede statue, and stands still. He is afraid it is someone lying in wait for him. He grasps his revolver. Then he recognizes what it is, and continues to the room.
  • The narrator enters the red room and makes his "systematic examination" with his candle (32). No ghosts to be seen. He lights the candles in the room as he walks.
  • The narrator lights the fire and sets himself up in front of it with a table and chair.
  • Troubled by the shadows in the alcove at the other end of the room, the narrator walks over and sets his candle there.
  • The shadows are gone.
  • Inspired by that idea, the narrator goes back into the hallway to round up all the candles there. He sets them up throughout the room, which is now lit by seventeen candles total.
  • After midnight, the candle in the alcove goes out, surprising the narrator. When he goes to light it, two other candles behind him go out.
  • Going to light those two, the narrator sees more candles go out. He starts running around the room to keep the candles lit, and they start going out more quickly.
  • Frustrated with his matches, the narrator grabs the bedroom candlestick to help him light the candles more quickly.
  • The narrator stumbles and falls when he runs into the table, losing his candlestick. All of the lights are out except for the fire now. Then that goes out as he tries to light a candle in it.
  • The narrator screams three times.
  • The narrator makes a run for the door, crashing about and battering himself as he goes (and screaming more). He gets knocked out after a blow on the head.
  • The next morning, the narrator awakens to find the custodians caring for him. He doesn’t remember what happened.
  • After being told about the red room and the condition in which he was found, the narrator’s memory slowly comes back.
  • He announces the red room is indeed haunted: by Fear.