The Time Machine
by H.G. Wells
The Time Machine Chapter 4 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 4
- The little people of the future have sweet voices, but the Time Traveller can't understand their language.
- They touch him with their soft hands, but he's not worried. He realizes that he could beat them up if he had to.
- Just to be safe, he takes the levers off the Time Machine so no one else can take it for a joyride.
- He tries to tell the people that he traveled through time by pointing at the sun. One of them asks through gestures if the Time Traveller came from the sun in the storm.
- The Time Traveller thinks he might be dealing with fools. He compares the little people to five-year-old children for thinking that he fell from the sky.
- But he says yes, and they cover him with flowers, which are like the people: beautiful and delicate.
- The Time Traveller goes with the people to their home, a big grey stone building that's falling apart in spots.
- There are tables full of fruit, which they eat. The Time Traveller tells us that these people only eat fruit. There are no horses, cows, sheep, or dogs. (This explains why the Time Traveller was so eager to eat meat in Chapter 2.)
- He tries to learn the language, but the people aren't good teachers. They're lazy.
- The Time Traveller goes for a walk up a hill to see what the world is like in the year 802,701. He is soon alone because the little people are too weak and lazy to walk that far.
- On his walk, he sees a ruin, which he promises will feature in a later adventure. He also notices a well. When he looks down the well, he can't see any water, but he does hear some giant machinery underground.
- He hasn't seen any individual houses, so he thinks the people live communally in the big buildings.
- Then the Time Traveller notices that the men and women look the same in the future.
- This makes sense to him, because he thinks sexual difference is a response to adversity. Since these people live in comfort, there's no reason for them to be very masculine or feminine.
- He sits on a seat near the top of the hill and looks out at the world, which looks peaceful, like a garden.
- He starts to come up with a theory about how things came to be the way they are. But first, he tells us that this theory is mostly wrong.
- His theory is that strength and smarts are only useful when you have to deal with hardship and danger. When everything is fine, there's no reason to be strong. The safer life is, the less strength you need. The people of the future have made things so safe with technology that they've become weak and stupid.
- The Time Traveller notes that there are processes in action in his own time (the 1890s) that point to this very outcome.
- Then he repeats that his theory is wrong. This won't be the last time he admits to being wrong, which is one reason we kind of like the Time Traveller. (See "Characters: The Time Traveller" and "Narrator Point of View" for more on this.)
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 4