Study Guide

The War of the Worlds Book 1, Chapter 9

By H.G. Wells

Book 1, Chapter 9

The Fighting Begins

  • Saturday morning is "a most unexceptional morning" (1.9.4). The narrator talks to the milkman and his neighbor, and everyone is sure the military has all this under control.
  • Everything seems very ordinary, especially with the little touches that Wells adds, like the neighbor giving the narrator some strawberries from his garden.
  • The narrator ends up chatting with a bunch of sappers (think "soldier engineers") who generally agree with the neighbor and the milkman – they've got the situation under control. The sappers all have different theories about how to kill the Martians.
  • The narrator tries to get more info on the situation, but the newspapers only have old news (and not entirely accurate news at that).
  • The military prepares to confront the Martians, and the narrator's schoolboy dreams of heroic war are awoken by all this: "My imagination became belligerent, and defeated the invaders in a dozen striking ways" (1.9.21).
  • Then, while the narrator is having tea with his wife, some nearby towers catch on fire and the narrator's chimney is destroyed by the Heat-Ray. The narrator quickly decides that, rather than heroically defeat the Martians, he should just get out of town.
  • The narrator decides to go to Leatherhead, where he has family. The narrator runs over to the Spotted Dog in order to hire the landlord's horse and cart.
  • There's some miscommunication at the Spotted Dog, but the narrator successfully hires the cart and loads up his wife and servant and some of their possessions.
  • A passing soldier says something about the Martians "crawling out in a thing like a dish cover" (1.9.41).
  • And then the narrator is off. Apparently, he doesn't like dish covers.