Study Guide

The War of the Worlds Book 1, Chapter 11

By H.G. Wells

Book 1, Chapter 11

At the Window

  • After changing his clothes (and experiencing another one of his patented mood swings), the narrator goes upstairs and looks out his study window. The storm is over, but since it's night, all he sees is darkness and fire. His secure "little world" has been turned into a "fiery chaos" (1.11.7).
  • He thinks about the tripods – are they alive or are they machines? He comes up with the neat analogy: what would some animal think about our ironclads or steam engines?
  • Before the narrator makes too many connections between the Martians and humans, a soldier interrupts by climbing into his garden. The narrator invites him in and they talk.
  • The soldier cries while he tells his story and our narrator listens "with a curious forgetfulness of [his] own recent despair" (1.11.24).
  • The soldier reveals that he's an artilleryman who was saved by dumb luck when the rest of his unit was wiped out: the horse he was riding stumbled and tossed him into a ditch just when all the ammunition blew up around his unit.
  • Without a hint of humor, the artilleryman tells the narrator that it smelled just like "burnt meat" (1.11.27), which makes sense because, well, what he smelled was burnt meat. Sorry – we know you didn't want to be reminded of that one.
  • The artilleryman was trapped under a horse while the tripod destroyed the area. After it left, he crawled away, and eventually ended up in the narrator's garden.
  • When the artilleryman finishes with his story, it's daytime and they can see the destruction of the area: "Never before in the history of warfare had destruction been so indiscriminate and universal" (1.11.34).
  • All in all, nothing happy happens in this chapter. Let's see if the next chapter is more cheerful.