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The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds

by H.G. Wells

Warfare Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the destruction that, generation after generation, creeps upon them. (1.1.5)

We might think of the Martians as blood-sucking monsters, but that's not entirely correct. (For one thing, they don't suck blood – they inject it. Totally different.) But while we spend most of the time in this novel being horrified by the Martians, the narrator begins the story by pointing out that war is a solution for them. That is, they aren't invading for fun, but because they think they'll die if they don't. For the Martians, war isn't about primarily about killing – it's about finding a place to live.

Quote #2

Many people had heard of the cylinder, of course, and talked about it in their leisure, but it certainly did not make the sensation that an ultimatum to Germany would have done. (1.8.1)

As we mentioned in "In A Nutshell," Wells is writing in a subgenre ("invasion literature") in which Germany is often the enemy. In the late 19th century, Germany and Britain competed for some of the same colonial possessions, so the idea that Germany would be a possible enemy was in the air. This notion of war on Earth will reappear at the end of the book, with all of Earth's countries realizing that they need to work together.

Quote #3

I must confess the sight of all this armament, all this preparation, greatly excited me. My imagination became belligerent, and defeated the invaders in a dozen striking ways; something of my schoolboy dreams of battle and heroism came back. (1.9.21)

This is not the only time this idea is expressed by the narrator. At another point he notes, "Something very like the war fever that occasionally runs through a civilized community had got into my blood" (1.10.3). These ideas certainly raise questions about the narrator. Is he really so bloodthirsty? These quotes also raise other questions about the relation between war and society. According to the narrator, war might be related to "schoolboy dreams" or a community may break out of "war fever." In other words, this makes war seem to be a little irrational. Is that what he's saying?

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