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The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds


by H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds Book 1, Chapter 3 Summary

READ THE BOOK: Book 1, Chapter 3

On Horsell Common

  • The narrator goes to see the cylinder in the morning and finds a small crowd of people: some boys throwing stones at the cylinder (which we would've done at that age, so we're not going to judge), some cyclists, a gardener, a girl and baby, a butcher and his boy, some guys with nothing better to do, and some golf caddies (1.3.3). In other words, just ordinary folk who have come to see the spectacle.
  • However, the cylinder is not really exciting unless you're a scientific person. In fact, according to the narrator, it's less exciting at first glance than "an overturned carriage or a tree blown across the road" (1.3.4).
  • Luckily, the narrator isn't really bored – unlike the other onlookers, he knows what the word "extraterrestrial" means (1.3.4). He imagines that the cylinder might contain some message from Mars and is impatient to see inside it. How wrong he is.
  • The narrator goes home, since nothing is happening, but returns in the afternoon. By that time, the newspapers have spread the news: "A Message Received from Mars. Remarkable Story from Woking." (1.3.6).
  • We interrupt this summary for a Brain Snack: A hundred years after Wells published this book, the real town of Woking put up some War of the Worlds-themed art to celebrate their connection to the book (source).
  • There's a larger crowd looking at the cylinder, including Ogilvy, Henderson, and Stent (the Astronomer Royal). Stent is directing some workmen in uncovering the cylinder. Curiously, Stent is the one who is "streaming with perspiration," which just goes to show what we've always said: it's hard work telling other people what to do (1.3.9).
  • Ogilvy asks the narrator to go speak to Lord Hilton (how fancy) about getting a light railing around the crater.
  • Gosh, our narrator is doing a lot of going to and fro here. And not much is going on.
READ THE BOOK: Book 1, Chapter 3

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