Study Guide

The War of the Worlds Book 2, Chapter 3

By H.G. Wells

Book 2, Chapter 3

The Days of Imprisonment

  • Still stuck in the house together, the narrator and the curate both enjoy peeping at the Martians through the small peephole. Yes, that's what people did before the Internet.
  • The problem is that only one of them can peep at a time, so they fight – but they have to do it quietly or else the Martians will come to kill them.
  • They also find that they "had absolutely incompatible dispositions and habits of thought and action" (2.3.2).
  • We don't get to hear what the curate thinks of the narrator, but the narrator isn't shy about telling us what he thinks about the curate: "He was as lacking in restraint as a silly woman" (2.3.2). The narrator also goes on to call the curate a "spoilt child of life," and to note that the curate spends most of his time crying. Not only does he cry all the time, but the curate also eats too much and sleeps very little. Basically, the curate acts like a baby.
  • The narrator is so aggravated with the curate that he eventually hits him in order to restrain him.
  • The narrator remarks on more things he observed about the Martians. For instance, he noticed the Martians make some aluminium – which in the US we call "aluminum." (Now, you're probably quite familiar with aluminum in foil form, so this might not seem so exciting, but aluminum used to be a rare metal in the 19th century.)
  • The curate gets upset when he sees the Martians haul some humans into their pit, and he gives up the peephole. The narrator takes a turn spying.
  • The narrator sees a Martian taking a well-dressed man out of the carrying cage on a tripod.
  • The narrator doesn't see what happens with the man, but he does hear shrieking from the man and hooting from the Martians (2.3.9). This can't be good at all.
  • After freaking out a little, the narrator tries to come up with a plan for how to escape the house, but they're still there on the third day, when the narrator sees a boy get killed and eaten (instead of just hearing it). After that, the narrator spends the rest of the day trying to dig a tunnel out, but it collapses on him.
  • On the fourth or the fifth night of their imprisonment, the narrator hears some guns, but they stop soon. That means the humans won, right? Yay, let's go play cricket to celebrate.