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CHAPTER SUMMARY WITH NOTES
Book One: The Coming of the Martians
Chapter Ten (In the Storm)
After arriving in Leatherhead around 9:00 pm and eating supper, the narrator is anxious to return to the scene of the action. Although his wife is quiet and grave for most of the evening, she does not try to dissuade him from keeping his promise to the innkeeper to have the cart back that night. He sets off eagerly at about 11:00 pm, taking a route through Ockham. That night, it is a town of silent houses, with only a small, quiet group of people out. He gets back to Maybury Hill just slightly after midnight.
Against the backdrop of the surmounting storm, the narrator sees a third cylinder fall to Earth. As flashes of lightning illuminate the sky, his horse takes off down the hill, but he is still able to make out the Martians’ new machine. It is a metal tripod that stands higher than several houses. At the top is a sort of head that turns about, as if planning out a path, and the steel that hangs down in tentacle-like fashion is easily taking care of any trees in the way. A green smoke is emitted from its joints.
Realizing that the machine is headed his way, the narrator panics and pulls the reins to the right so hard that the horse falls, breaking its neck. The cart overturns, landing him in a large puddle of water. The machine passes by, meeting up with the other one at the site of the newly fallen third cylinder.
Though the lightning has become intermittent, the hail is coming down heavily.
He gets no answer at a nearby small house, and fails to think then of escaping back to Leatherhead, and so the narrator starts out on the difficult walk to his house. After crawling along in a ditch and using trees as cover, he struggles out onto a lane. A man runs into him, but is too scared to do anything but scream and run off.
The storm is strong, so the narrator begins using a fence as a guide and support. His foot catches something, and by the brief flashes of lightning, he recognizes the dead body of the man whom he had borrowed the dog cart from, the landlord of the Spotted Dog.
Finally arriving home, the narrator goes inside, locks the door, and sits at the bottom of the staircase, cold and distraught.
It is important to recognize how closely the weather parallels the events concerning the Martians. While the narrator is getting away from them, it is a pleasant evening. By the time he sets out to return the cart, a storm is brewing. Right after the fall of the third cylinder, the first lightning cracks against the sky. The storm bursts as the narrator arrives back in town.
Also, it is possible that the Martians’ emergence from the pit at night is significant, showing the change in human mentality. The narrator himself feels the sort of excitement that comes about in times of war, when life is reduced to a more basic form. The contrasting darkness of the night and the bright flashes of lightning, which Wells spends some time on, could represent how the narrator’s world is becoming black and white, a matter purely of who survives and who does not.