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CHAPTER SUMMARY WITH NOTES
Book One: The Coming of the Martians
Chapter Seven (How I Reached Home)
The narrator takes note of little during his frantic run, finally collapsing by a bridge, exhausted after fleeing from the terrors he sees all around him. When he was again able to move, he at first cannot remember the events of the past few hours. As it comes back to him in this still untouched world, it all begins to seem unreal. The three things that had seemed so pressing to him just awhile ago-the vastness of his surroundings, his own weakness, and the coming death-were gone, leaving him as he has always been.
As he starts walking, he sees the sights of ordinary life, a workman and a little boy, as well as a train and other signs of industry. Two men and a woman standing by a gate laughingly dismiss the narrator’s concerns about the Martians. His wife however, takes the threat they pose in all seriousness.
The narrator recounts his experiences to her over a cold, untouched dinner. Seeing the anxiety clearly written in her white face, he begins to feel that he perhaps overestimated the threat the Martians posed. As he attempts to reassure her and his confidence increases, he comes to believe that it really would not take much to kill the creatures and that they are probably only so destructive out of fear.
He finds comfort in the sluggishness of the Martians, a result of the tripled strength of gravity on Earth. However, he, as well as the newspapers, have forgotten to take into account the different atmospheric composition (the Earth has more oxygen, less argon) and the benefits of mechanical abilities that more than counter the gravitational effects.
The narrator remembers the dinner vividly, as it would be the last of its kind for some time.
The sword mentioned at the start of the chapter is suggestive of fate. Although it is the Heat-Ray of the Martians that is being referred to, the narrator pictures it as hanging right above him, ready to take his life away. The idea is similar to the ancient notion of the three Fates, one of which could cut the thread of life at any moment. This is of course a pretty natural response, owing to the sudden appearance of life forms with an advanced and dangerous technology.
The narrator sees a train briefly, puffing along. Its white smoke is in contrast to the green smoke of the Martians. Also, the people he meets show the difference between hearing and actually seeing. Those on the side of the gate close to the pleasant row of houses have not experienced the danger of the Martians firsthand, as the narrator has.
Adding to the continuing analogy of men to animals as the Martians are to men is the metaphor of the dodo bird. Its confidence over the sea-worn sailors is obviously misplaced, as we now know that it was in its final days of existence. The narrator sits with the same assurance.