Study Guide

The War of the Worlds Book 1, Chapter 4

By H.G. Wells

Book 1, Chapter 4

The Cylinder Opens

  • The narrator returns to Horsell Common to discover an even larger crowd, all pushing to be able to see the cylinder. All, that is, except for one poor guy who fell into the crater and is trying to push his way back out. (Which is always the way – the grass is always greener on the other side of the crater.)
  • Then the cylinder opens, and out comes something that no one expects. The narrator admits that he expected something sort of like a man to emerge, but instead what comes out is snake-like tentacles and a body about the size of a bear and skin that glistens like "wet leather" (1.4.12, 1.4.14). (You can only imagine our facial contortions right now.)
  • Everyone runs away from the Martian just because it looks horrible, what with its saliva-dripping, lipless mouth and big, luminous eyes. Oh, and tentacles. Can't forget the tentacles.
  • Since all of the people have for cover (they've found places to hide and watch), the area by the crater is now a human-free zone, with just some horses and carts.
  • Oh, and remember the man who fell in the crater before? He's still down there. Dun dun dun!